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As I mentioned last week, one of my favorite parts of Christmas aside from the Lord’s birth and time with family is buying presents. Each year, the day after Thanksgiving I start brainstorming ideas of what gift will bring who joy?

I don’t participate in Black Friday shopping, because I don’t think my heart could stand it, but Cyber Monday is one of my favorite days to try and knock out all Christmas shopping from the comfort of my home.

Can you think back over the years and remember your favorite Christmas present? I can think of a few that I especially cherished and think about with fond memories.

First, I remember the Christmas where my twin and I had a rather large box under the tree addressed to us. Usually if the present was addressed to the both of us it meant that it was going to be something especially awesome.

Finally, Christmas Day came when we would open presents. We had stared in anticipation at this gift for nearly a month now, and the time had come. As each family member divided up their presents in piles, we could hardly contain our excitement. Then, all of the sudden it was our turn.

Much to our surprise and delight, Mom and Dad got us an Easy Bake Oven! I can still picture what the box looked like as we tore away the wrapping paper. We had asked for and hoped for this present and now it was ours! We were the proud owners of an Easy Bake Oven.

To be fair to all of the other presents that year, maybe we should have saved the big one under the tree for last, because when we got that oven, we immediately wanted to begin baking all of the tiny treats our hearts desired. For the rest of Christmas break that year it seemed like all we did was bake and play with our Beanie Babies and Barbies while we waited for our treats to come out of the oven. What a Christmas that was.

If I can remember correctly, we were around nine or 10 years old that year. How would we ever top this Christmas?

Another Christmas, when my twin and I were absolutely floored with our gifts, was either the year before or the year after the Easy Bake. For a while, we watched how our older sister Grace would love and take care of her American Girl Doll, Kirsten. Plus, we read Kirsten’s books that Grace had.

We had read other American Girl books and became enthralled with the historical stories of how each doll came to be. Oh how we both longed to be able to have a doll of our own and dress her up to our heart’s desire.

Kirsten was special because she looked like Grace. She was a pioneer doll, if I remember correctly, and had long braided hair. At the time, I had a short, blonde, “bob” haircut that hit my face around my chin. Abby, my twin, had a similar haircut but with dark brown hair. Of course, we had each picked out dolls that looked like us and, if we were to be so lucky, we would call our own one day.

I selected Kit Kittredge, a girl who grew up in the Midwest during the Great Depression era. She was a tomboy, and I related to her in that way. She was spunky and always up for an adventure, and I admired and loved her for those reasons.

Abby chose Molly McIntire, a World War 2-era doll. I remember reading in Molly’s story that they started freedom gardens, and I was fascinated when reading about all sorts of other war-time efforts Americans made. This might be from where my love for World War 2 history comes…also, my love for alliterations!

So, there we were Christmas morning. We had opened many of our presents, yet both Abby and I still had a few left. See, I think, for our birthday that November, we had both received the full book set that was embellished with gold tip pages and beautifully illustrated. Abby got Molly’s collection, and I got Kit’s. This may have been a present from our Grams, or mom and dad. Nonetheless, it was a treasured gift and, we hoped, a foreshadowing of what was to come.

By the time Christmas came around, I think we had both made a good dent in the reading the stories of the dolls, and became even more infatuated with the characters. However, each present we opened was not a doll, and there wasn’t even a present under the tree, even remotely shaped like a doll. That is, until we opened our “last present.” Much to our surprise, we got American Girl Doll BRUSHES. We had both seen these brushes because Grace often brushed Kirsten’s hair.

This could only mean one thing…and right as it clicked in our minds, there they were, Molly and Kit dolls, being carried by our parents, AND THEY WERE OURS! I can still remember the joy I felt. Kit and I were inseparable, as were Abby and Molly.

The dolls joined us nearly everywhere, and for most birthdays, we would ask for additional outfits and other fun trinkets for our prized possessions. To this day, Kit sits in my closet in my “grown up” home, poised and waiting for the day that I have children, so I can pass her and her books along to them. She was easily the best gift of my childhood.

Both the Easy Bake Over, and even more so the American Girl Doll were presents I remember wanting so badly it hurt, and our parent’s made it happen. They granted our heart’s desires and I guarantee they took joy in seeing how happy Abby and I were.

I can’t help but compare that kind of love for us with the love our Lord and Savior poured out for us when He gave us His Son. It was the ultimate sacrifice, but He takes joy in our joy. He wants to grant us the desires of our hearts if only we accept the desire of His heart, which is for us to have a personal relationship with Him.

As Christmas rolls around and you select presents for your loved ones, consider the greatest gift of all. It tops an Easy Bake Oven and American Girl Doll, hands down.