It was the night before Christmas in 1974. I was six years old, and my brother was eight. We were wound up tighter than a thread caught in a vacuum – twisting with excitement about what treasures we’d discover under the tree the next morning. Our minds were filled with wonder as we tried to figure out what our parents bought us. Mom, especially, worked hard every Christmas to deliver anticipation for the big day. We were just young boys in our adolescence, wishing Christmas would come in a few minutes; but, alas, it was bedtime.
Drifting off to dreamland with the parental reminder that Christmas will come faster if you go to sleep, our dreams began to process our hopeful delight.
Get up! Come look! Hurry! said my brother who’d awakened in the early dawn. Sleepily getting up, I quickly came to my senses and followed Philip to the living room.
There they were in all their glory! Two of the most beautiful and unanticipated gifts boys had ever seen. My bike was red. That’s all I can remember. It was red! I couldn’t take my eyes off it. That beautiful bike was the world’s greatest treasure – the best thing I’d ever been given!
That it was a cold wintery day in the mobile home park in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, was not an adequate deterrent to this writer’s adolescent drive to try out the new wheels. It was not long before we were bundled up in our winter’s finest and on our bikes in the snow. The problem? I didn’t know how to ride a bike. I’m not sure if my mother kept a log of how many times I got up on the bike only for the wheels to flip out on the icy snow. I fell often as I recall. But I was determined to learn. And learn to ride a bike on a blanket of snow is exactly what I did that Christmas so long ago. I may have slipped too many times to count, but I finally learned how to navigate on the slippery terrain.
I’m 40 years older now and a tad bit wiser. There are other things I treasure more than a bicycle these days. Don’t get me wrong; I do like getting a nice Christmas gift! I simply realize that like that red bike – now existing only in my Christmas past – the temporal things of this life are just that: temporary. The greatest gifts are the treasures of family, health, vocation, and friends. The best gift of all, of course, is the red-stained cross of my greatest treasure, the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s a red Christmas gift worth keeping!
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, ESV)