It was the third straight Christmas we lived far from home. I worked in a college town in the deep South, where it never snowed at Christmas. My wife, Tamara, was pregnant with our second child. Money was always tight for the regular stuff and way too tight for any flights back home. So we looked forward to another quiet holiday in our little house with the cockroaches.

Cooper david
Managing Editor / Progressive Cattle

Luckily, we had a great source of play with our 2-year-old son, Taylor. Whether he was chasing squirrels outside, flooding the bathtub, climbing the kitchen counters to hunt for Oreos or re-decorating the Christmas tree each night, he had us laughing or scolding him by the hour. He was exhausting, and he was wonderful.

Parents work overtime to make holidays special for kids but, for a 2-year-old, Christmas Day is about as memorable as an opera is to a goldfish. With no visitors coming, we felt free to make Christmas as simple as possible for our little boy. He didn’t need headphones, video games or technology. Those days would come soon enough.

Unshackled by high expectations, we took our last 20 bucks and went to the dollar shop. We bought the finest assortment of toy cars, trucks, balls, swords, whoopee cushions and stuffed animals ever manufactured by our trade partners in China and Mexico. We had about 30 small items altogether. My wife went to work, wrapping each toy individually. We placed them under the tree and in our son’s new stocking on Christmas Eve.

Here was the routine when Taylor woke up. He’d open a toy, become exuberant with the toy, play with the toy in the yard or house for 20 minutes, be reminded to open another toy and start over again.


The cycle continued through the whole morning. By 11 a.m., he was plum tuckered out on the floor. He’d wake up and the glee would start up again, trying to scare squirrels with a whoopee cushion.

I remember one moment just as the day was ending. I sat on the couch with him asleep on my lap. Clutched in his hand were two toys, and Oreo crumbs were all over his mouth. And I still recall, almost 22 years later, clearly thinking: “How under stars and heaven did I ever get so lucky?”

Every one of those toys was eventually lost, eaten by dogs or flushed away by an adventurous boy. But the memory of savoring each gift and then rediscovering it hours after you opened it – those always remain, as do some spiritual lessons of that special Christmas.

God gave the greatest gift possible in His Son, on a simple night in Bethlehem. That Savior was meant to be found, loved and re-discovered through history – and especially throughout our long, complicated but sweet lives. He is the eternal gift that helps us remember and repeatedly ask: How did we ever get so lucky?