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The Special Christmas Gift

Children's Story
Matty was very excited. Along with his older brother and sister, he had woken very early on Christmas morning to find a bulging Christmas stocking lying at the foot of his bed. There were lots of small toys in the stocking, a notebook with felt-tip pens, a diary, and a pencil sharpener. His excitement grew as he plunged his hand right down to the toe of the stocking. He knew what he would find, because it was the same every year, but somehow that made it all the more special. Yes, there they were, the chocolate money, the apple and the orange. With a sigh of contentment he laid everything out on the bed, and started to unwrap a chocolate penny.

Christmas was the best day in the year. The whole family would go to church in the morning, then after Christmas dinner (which went on for ever) and the washing up, everyone would gather round the Christmas tree and the giving out of presents would begin.

There was a huge pile of presents under the tree, and Matty knew there were a lot for him, because he'd peeked at all the labels. But there were lots for everyone else as well, and he'd put all the presents he'd bought for the family, with the others. He'd had difficulty with some of his gifts. He couldn't decide what to get for Grandma, so in the end he'd made her a calendar out of a last year's Christmas card, and added some ribbon so that she could hang it up. His brother and sister, who had bought perfume and talcum powder for Grandma, had jeered at him and teased him. But Mum had hugged him and told him Grandma would be delighted because he'd taken such a lot of trouble over making his gift.

After that, he wouldn't let anyone see any of his other presents. There was one special gift which he kept secret even from Mum, but he spent a long time wrapping it up so that it was exactly right.

In the afternoon, Matty was allowed to give out the presents, because he was the youngest. He made sure everybody had one, then when they were opened, went round again - and again and again! It took ages until all the presents were given out and unwrapped, and all the family had a pile of gifts by their chairs.

Then there was only one gift left. It was wrapped in gold paper, and had been carefully placed in the middle of the Christmas tree.

"What about that one, Matty?" asked his Dad.

Matty shook his head. "That's not for any of us."

"Don't be stupid," began his brother, and pulled the gift out of the tree. '"To God, with love from Matty,"' he read on the label, and burst out laughing. "You can't give a present to God, you silly baby!" he exclaimed.

Matty felt tears spring into his eyes, but his mother put her arm round him. "Of course you can!" she declared. "I think it's a lovely idea. God gave us Jesus at Christmas, and that's why we give each other presents. I'm glad Matty wanted to give a present to God."

"What's in it?" asked Matty's sister.

They all looked at Matty. Then his mother said gently, "Should we open it for God, Matty? After all, he can only use our hands and feet now. But if you want, we could take it to church and lay it on the altar."

Matty thought for a bit, then he said, "It doesn't need to go to church, 'cos God's with us here, isn't he? You can open it for him Mum, if you like."

Matty's Mum eased off the sticky tape and undid the gold paper very carefully while the whole family crowded round. Inside was an empty tissue box.

Matty's brother made a face. "It's just an old box," he said in disgust. "There's nothing in it! What would God want with that?"

"It doesn't matter what it's like," Matty's Dad said firmly. "None of the rest of us gave anything at all to God. I'm sure God loves Matty's present."

But Matty said, "It's not empty. I filled it with all my hopes and dreams, to give them to God. He can see them, even if you can't."

There was a sudden silence, while everybody forgot all their new things and thought of God. Matty was sure the room filled with light, and he felt happier than he'd ever felt before. Afterwards his Mum and Dad said everyone went quiet because the angels were passing by, and Matty knew then that God had received his gift, and that He loved it. And Matty's Mum hugged him, because she knew in her heart that because of his special Christmas gift, his hopes and dreams would be kept safe forever.
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