gift from my father
“Get up! I have something I want you to see!” It was 4:30 am on Christmas morning and my father and mother were standing by my bed. Normally it would be my brother and me waking them up, but this time was different. I was seven and my brother, Mike was nine. I shivered as I slipped into my warm chenille robe and fuzzy slippers.  I followed sleepily down the stairs of our big Victorian house.  The oak sliding doors to the living room were closed so I couldn’t see if Santa had come.  But we weren’t going to the living room. Daddy led us out the front door onto our big porch.
“This is beautiful! You will love it.” The chilly December air was bracing. There had even been a light dusting of snow that year in Georgetown, Texas. As we sat huddled on our front porch steps, daddy pointed up to the horizon that was beginning to glow with the promise of dawn. “There! Do you see it?” He pointed at a beautiful star that brightly twinkled in the early morning light. “It’s the Christmas Star!”  He then proceeded to tell us the wonderful story of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, and the Star of Bethlehem. He told us how the  Wise Men saw that star and followed it until they came to where the baby was. As we sat in the crisp morning air listening to him telling us the amazing story, I was filled with the magic of the moment. On a morning just like this one, thousands of years ago, a baby was born that changed the whole world. A baby so special, that a star announced His arrival. In my seven-year-old mind, this story, that I had heard before at Sunday school, suddenly came alive. I could imagine the cold night air, the manger, the shepherds. I could see it all happening there in the starlight. The beauty of the moment continued until the star finally melted into the light of Christmas morning.
Later we went into our big kitchen where Mama had made us cinnamon toast and hot chocolate. She and daddy drank coffee and chuckled at our growing excitement about what was behind the living room doors. Did Santa come? Did I get a doll with a red evening dress? I soon found out!  The oak doors were opened and we raced into the living room to find all the surprises a seven-year-old could want.
I don’t remember what gifts I got that Christmas in 1957. But 60 years later, it was the experience of looking at the star with my father, that stayed with me.
As an adult, I learned that the “star” was probably Venus or some other bright celestial object. And historians still discuss what the real Christmas Star might have been. Perhaps a comet or a supernova. Lots of adults don’t believe in magic or mystery.  So they have to explain it away. But I’m not one of them.  I believe there was a Mary and Joseph, a manger and a baby Jesus.  And that morning in 1957, Daddy showed me The Christmas Star. From him, I learned the magic of the first Christmas was about a loving God who came to dwell with us. That experience was the best gift I have ever gotten.