This holiday season I have been on a special mission. I call it "In search of the Waltons at Christmas."

So many people seem to be struggling this year with family relationships. I have overheard them in the malls and department stores.

"Well, I'm not spending much on him this year. I don't even like him. I'm doing this because I have to!"

One woman, clearly filled with the spirit of giving, said: "I'll buy this and keep it upstairs. If she doesn't have something for me, I'll return it. I'm not wasting my good money on her."

Although the Waltons had typical brother/sister clashes mixed with a few intergenerational disagreements, they were very much connected as a family. I believe many viewers tuned in longing for that special place where all problems were resolved in an hour.

My search recently took me to a local church where I sat pondering the meaning of it all. After about ten minutes, a father and young child about five years old walked in to see the Nativity scene set up in the sanctuary.

"Daddy, look the manger!" the boy said excitedly. "Is that Santa over there?" he asked, pointing to one of the three Wise Men. "No, son. They are the Three Kings bringing presents to Jesus," replied his dad.

"Christmas presents?"

"No. I guess you can say they are birthday presents. Remember we told you that Christmas is really our celebration of the birth of Jesus."

The boy paused for a moment seemingly satisfied with Dad's answer. Then, as children do, he asked the unanswerable question that warms your heart and often puts you in your place.

"Daddy, what are we giving Jesus for His birthday this year?"

Silence. Then drawing on the wisdom of the ages, Dad said..."I don't know. Let's go home and ask your mom."

They left soon after. Peace and quiet returned to the sanctuary, leaving me to think about what that child had said. If I were there that sacred evening, drawn by the light of the star of Bethlehem, what gift would I offer?

This was a thought that overwhelmed me. I pride myself on having the ability to at least come up with a few options, choices for people who share their personal problems with me. But I couldn't come up with one thing I thought Jesus would need from me.

So I did what the young child had done earlier. I turned to my Father and asked: "God, what could I possibly offer your Son as a gift? I really have nothing of value."

I sat quietly, and an answer came. A small voice inside me said, "The same thing He has given you. Your life, lived to honor Him."

To any of you who celebrate the birth of Christ, and to each of you who value your faith, whatever it may be, the message is the same. You are the greatest of all gifts given to this world, to your family, and your community. Your wealth is not in your checking account, but in your actions, your life, your generous spirit as you live a positive, passion-filled existence. That makes you valuable beyond measure.

The Waltons couldn't have wrapped it up better--and in less than an hour! This Christmas, I wish you enough.

P.S. Goodnight, John Boy!

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