The Best Gift

By Stacee Helton

November 30, 2023

Today is the last day of November and as I often do, I’m currently enjoying one of my favorite things about the holiday season: sitting alone in a dark living room, lit only by the Christmas tree. I love quiet mornings, but especially when a tree with little white lights can provide such calmness and even relaxation, before a busy day. I like to sip on a hot cup of coffee, and just think. My husband would probably call it think, think and overthink… but I like to be alone with my thoughts. I like to ponder, to dream, and to reflect and remember. In doing so, I become even more thankful, for so many things and so many people in my life. 

There are no presents under this tree. We have already had Christmas with family, since this was our year to have kids in town for Thanksgiving. We will get to spend a few days with them next month, in the days following Christmas, as we plan to vacation together in sunny Florida for my upcoming milestone birthday on New Year’s Day. My whole little family, a couple of stops at Buc-ee’s, a few days at Disney, and fireworks to usher in a new year! It will be a dream come true, indeed. But even if all the extras weren’t planned, I would still be happy to just be with my husband and kids, and enjoy our time together.

Speaking of these favorite people of mine: while they were here for Thanksgiving, they gave me a Christmas gift that still brings me to tears when I think about it. (And not just misty-eyed; it’s the tears rolling down the cheeks, hitting my shirt, kind of crying!). They had been working hard in secret to gather sweet notes of encouragement from friends and family, near and far. They had also asked for their favorite Bible verses, to place in a brand new Bible for me. They highlighted the verses they received, and added a name beside each one, so that I would always know who had given me their favorite verse. They chose this extra-special gift, because earlier this year, I took a huge leap of faith and decided to begin a church leadership program, made up of 6 courses that will take me 3 years to complete. When I’m finished, my husband will not be the only ordained pastor in our household. While I firmly believe that being a pastor’s wife is a high calling, this step in obedience is mine, and mine alone… and I’m excited for the journey. (Having regular homework again, after 30 years isn’t the most fun part. HaHa! But believe it or not, I’m enjoying that, too). My sweet little family wanted me to know that they are proud of me, and that I have a circle of friends and family who are supportive, as well. I think I cried more that day than I have in quite some time. It is a most special gift, and I treasure it.

I don’t know what the holidays will look like at your home this year, but I pray that you will take some time to reflect today, just like I’m doing in this quiet room. The lights on my tree remind me that Jesus is the light, and my calm during the chaotic, uncertain, busy, exciting, and even sometimes sad seasons of life. He is with us when we experience it all, and gives us sweet reminders that we do not go through any of it alone. And if you’re thinking that you might not have much to give to someone else this year, may I offer a gift idea? Pass along a note of encouragement, along with your favorite Bible verse. It will lift their spirits, and remind them of how much you care. You can take my word for it… it is a blessing! Enjoy your day… December arrives tomorrow!