The spice box “The gifts that only God could give “

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Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel

A flock of robins filled the yard—I couldn’t count how many. It’s a large yard, and the birds hopped and flitted about as they feasted on bugs and worms and whatever else robins feast on. I couldn’t begin to get a reasonably accurate number. Their singing made the world sound more like March than December.

Their arrival and subsequent behavior is a familiar adjunct to the holiday season along the Pacific Flyway, but no less welcome—and no less charming—for all that. Our hearts are thrilled with the sight; we thank God for bringing to our yard the gift of robins.

The sights and sounds of Christmas in our area are not limited to the carols and Christmas lights and holiday shopping that are the product of human celebration of the season. Here in Willows (Calif.), the whole of nature joins in to remind us of the passing of time and of the fast-approaching annual celebration of the coming of our Lord. Canada geese, snow geese, white-fronted geese, tundra swans and an incredible variety of ducks pass overhead by the thousands, their raucous trumpeting drawing our gaze to the heavens minutes before we can begin to discern the wave upon wave of V-shaped flocks appear in the distance. We watch, awed by the sheer numbers, and the volume of the sounds that accompany their passing as they call back and forth to one another. Our hearts are thrilled as we watch the graceful (noisy) flights; we thank God for sharing with us the gift of seeing the migrating flocks.

Tiny Lesser Goldfinch flock to the sock filled with thistle seed, sometimes one or two at a time, sometimes 15 or 20, vying for the best spot on the wind-tossed feeder outside my window. They too are a seasonal gift. In the summer the larger American Goldfinches, sparrows and house finches outnumber them. Now, with the advent of colder weather, the American Goldfinches have moved further south, and their smaller cousins will share our winter with us. We thank God for sharing with us the gift of a window from which we can look out every day and see the ever-changing wonders of his creation.

We are delighted with his abundant gifts, and grateful that he has made us aware of his wonders, from the intricate spider web glistening in the sunlight to the sight of the mountains looming blue in the distance. We thank God for sharing them with us.

The fire burns in the fireplace. Yes, we have central heating, but there is something special about watching the flames and feeling their warmth—something more personal, as though this is designed just for us as we gather ‘round and are embraced by the growing warmth and the sights and sounds of a room made ready for the Christmas season. Fragrant swags of greenery tied with bright red ribbon send the lovely scent of the forest drifting though our midst; lights and tinsel adorn the Christmas tree, while colorful packages nestle beneath its boughs, awaiting that special moment to come; candles flicker in an unnoticed draft, and bayberry mingles with the scent of pine; our thoughts are of family, near and far, some of whom are now with the Lord, but remain with us in the treasury of our memories. Spicy smells from the kitchen blend with other sweet scents, and that too is a gift from God, and we are grateful to him for the pleasures of life and the awareness of his presence…and the awareness that all of these delights are mere trappings, designed to focus hearts and minds on the greatest gift of all.


I don’t know who said it first, but it was God’s intent from the very beginning: Jesus is the reason for the season! Everything else pales in the light of his coming. The trappings of the season are nice; his coming critical, essential. Our survival as individuals and the survival of the human race as a whole are dependent upon this single event:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:16-17, NIV).

Our hearts are humbled as we think of God’s incredible gift, and we thank him. Oh, how we do thank him!


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