A Wobbly Wheel at Christmas-December 25, 2023
By Jim Crosby
This has now become a tradition. Each Christmas I share one of my favorite Christmas memories. Reprinted from "A Wobbly Wheel at Christmas-December 25, 2006"
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About the same time wise men arrived in Jerusalem asking, "Where is the newborn King of the Jews?" °When they saw the star, they were filled with joy, then they entered the house and fell down and worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:1-2,10-11
A little girl who had recently become the big sister of a new baby brother listened to the story of the Wise Men's gifts to the Baby Jesus. She thought for a moment and then said, "Well, I guess gold and all that stuff are all right, but I'll bet Mary really wished somebody had brought some diapers."
The story of the Wise Men really embodies the whole idea of gift-giving at Christmas. In an MMD on Joseph we talked about memories and what an important role they play at Christmas as we fondly, sometimes sadly, but usually with gladness, remember Christmases past. Yet, when we think back to some of our fondest Christmas memories, we often find they are wrapped up in the gift-giving scenario.
We recall the excitement of waiting for Santa Claus as a kid. How excited we were, couldn't go to sleep, up before the crack of dawn. I vividly remember one of my greatest Christmases as a kid. I got a bicycle, a football, shoulder pads, a helmet, football-jersey and just for some variety, I got a basketball, too. And you didn't think I could remember that far back (smile).
As we go along in life, the focus shifts. We begin to remember the gifts we gave at Christmas more than those we received. This is especially true when children come along. The real, true joy of Christmas now begins to come from the happiness we derive in giving, from seeing the smile on the faces of those we love and knowing our gifts have brought them joy. We graduate from "me, me, me" at Christmas to the joy of doing for and giving to others.
There were two little boys who just couldn't wait for Christmas to arrive. They had asked for trains, so on Christmas morning they rushed downstairs before dawn. Sure enough, under the tree was a gleaming passenger train for Billy and a sturdy freight train, for Bobby. They were so excited they grabbed the engines, rushed up to their parents' bedroom, eyes sparkling, faces smiling, deliriously happy.
Mom agreed those trains were great. Dad was so groggy, tired, and sleepy he could hardly say anything, but agreed the trains were neat. Another surprise awaited the lads in the basement. There was a huge table covered with railroad tracks wired so both trains could run at the same time. They were ecstatic!
What they didn't know was their Dad had worked all night long building and laying the track and wiring. They couldn't appreciate his hours of planning, expensive shopping, lost sleep and the need for quiet construction. Years later they would understand their father's sacrificial love when they became fathers.
My own somewhat similar story, is one I call the "Wobbly Wheel at Christmas." I'm not nearly as talented as the father who expertly wired and constructed those train tracks. In fact, you could call me "mechanically brain dead." I go to lengths to find things, even if I have to pay extra that say, "no assembly required." Because frankly when you have to assemble something, I've found those instructions usually don't make sense to me, or they leave out a step, or a part is missing, or I forgot batteries, whatever. I know it's an insidious plot by the toymakers, machine manufacturers, engineers, and plant workers of the world to befuddle me, which is easy to do.
Anyway, we were living in Ft. Lauderdale and my oldest son, Clint, was about three or four. He wanted a little red wagon for Christmas. It had to be assembled from scratch. I'll admit there weren't that many parts, but the ones that were there just didn't all seem to fit properly or at least they didn't have a nice, tight fit. I started on that wagon assembly project about midnight on Christmas Eve and finished it around 4 or 4:30 a.m. Toward the end I was a little apprehensive that Clint would wake up early, come into the living room, and see me messing with that darn wagon under the Christmas tree.
He didn't and thankfully I finished it. There was only one little problem. The right rear wheel wobbled when it rolled. It looked like it was going to come off. And no matter how much I tried to get that wheel to straighten up and roll right, it still wobbled. Didn't affect the smooth rolling of the wagon it just looked funny. It always looked like it was going to fall off, but never did.
Well, Clint loved that wagon. He was constantly after me to pull him around the yard in it. Not exactly what I had in mind. I had thought he would go out back and load stuff in the wagon and pull it himself. No, his idea was for me to pull and for him to ride. So there we were walking the neighborhood, Dad pulling, Clint riding like King of the World, and that right wheel wobbling like it was going to come off. That thing wobbled through the rest of our time in Ft. Lauderdale, it moved to Quincy with us, then came to Tallahassee with the rest of our stuff, wobbling-away all the time, but never falling off.
The important thing is the pleasure that wagon brought to my son, who didn't care that the wheel wobbled. The Wise Men didn't care how difficult it was to find this baby boy. They studied prophecies and searched the skies endlessly to find where he was. They didn't care that they had to travel a long way, at night, 'cause you can't follow a star during daylight. Those camels didn't have any headlights, so all kinds of things could happen to them at night ranging from falling in a hole to falling prey to robbers.
It didn't matter that they found Him in a stable instead of a palace. They didn't care that he was not wrapped in silk or fine linen, or he was being hidden because as soon as He was born there were some who wanted to kill Him. It didn't matter because they fulfilled the mission of finding and worshipping Him as a King and presenting the finest gifts they had, Gold ° Frankincense °and Myrrh. Gifts with "no assembly required," which they could have figured out anyway since they were Wise Men.
My boys are grown now, and they usually just want money or a gift card for Christmas. I can assemble that! Even if they wanted something I couldn't assemble, I'd still consider myself a "Wise Man", because I've learned the true happiness and real meaning of Christmas lies not in what you receive, but in the joy of giving. No greater example of that can be found than the gift of God, who gave us His Son on that night in Bethlehem. This is a gift that keeps on giving forever!
Prayer: Father God, thank you for the eternal gift of the Christ child. It is the most outstanding example of the joy that comes from giving. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive. Amen!