Wednesday, December 23, 2015 

“…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 

It was a plain little box. Small, simple, unwrapped, unadorned. The handmade tag simply said, “To: Mom.” Sitting on the floor next to our Christmas tree, my daughter smiled as she handed me my Christmas gift. It weighed nothing and made no sound as I rattled it, prolonging her joy in my surprise. I opened the box and found a scrap of paper folded in half. It said, “Dear Mom. I love 25 on Christmas day and I like you! Love, Erin.” I’ll admit it … I cried. She couldn’t understand my tears as I held her in my lap and thanked her for such a precious gift. “What’s wrong, Mom? Why are you crying?” I told her when a mama’s heart is full of love, God lets her cry a little to let it out. She was satisfied with my answer, kissed my cheek, and went back to her new doll.

I cried because I knew how much it cost her. You see, my daughter is autistic. Words are a horrendous obstacle for her. She struggles to find the right words, the right emotion, the right tone to convey what she hopes to express and even then sometimes it comes out wrong. A simple signature took her many years to master. On this paper, I didn’t see an awkwardly worded sentence in wobbly handwriting. I saw the immense level of effort she poured into her love note. I saw a beautifully illustrated peacock, my favorite animal, adorning the bottom of the page. I saw a heart, colored red in hopes of letting me know how much she loves me. I cried because the enormous effort was the gift. That plain little box held a gift of unspeakable love.

When Mary gave birth to her baby boy, she placed him in a plain little box known as a manger. A rough-hewn, unadorned trough for simple barnyard animals held a gift of unspeakable love. God placed the hope for humanity, his love for me, in that ordinary looking child. He wasn’t born to a fanfare, the salute of a hundred cannons, the bunting of finest silk. He was a King wrapped in cloths, resting in a crude feed box, surrounded by the lowliest of people.

Every time I see a Nativity scene, I look at the miniature manger and remember that simple box and its tag, “To: Mom.” It still contains the precious note and is prominently displayed on my dresser. I will always have it as a reminder of how very much I am loved.

-Amy O’Brien 

Prayer: Father God, Thank you for the priceless gift of your Son, Our Savior. Thank you for small reminders of how very much you love us. Amen.