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By Jesse Utz 

The best present

Jess Shut Up


If you asked a child what the “best present” they could receive this year would be, you would get answers that vary. One might say a pony, another might say a Playstation III with some kind of Star Trek-sounding adapter. All would say a new phone, even if they did not even know how to count to 10. Older kids might be more specific with their desires, but few would stray further than the newest electronic zombie maker of their choice. But is that really the best present?

If we went a little older with the question, we might get more realistic answers. Let’s say college-age kids. More than likely we would get to the bigger-ticket items. Laptops, tablets and school-related stuff would dominate the answers of the kids going to school, but we would also see some of the practical answers. New cars, snow tires, plane tickets and household items would start to dot the list; but again, would we actually hit the best gift? Probably not.

So let’s ask the seasoned adults. The wise ones of our time would more than likely get sentimental and say something like “spend time with family,” “see my mom again,” or “see my kids happy.” All very good answers, and we have slipped out of the actual physical things and moved to gifts of the heart and feelings. But again, I struggle with whether these are the best of the best.

My personal opinion is that none of these are the best present. I know, I know. There is a kid out there right now, tearing up the paper and vowing to never read “Jess Shut Up” again and yelling at the top of their lungs for me to do just that. But hopefully they regain their composure and tape the paper back together to continue. Also, how else are you going to read Coulee Cops? But let me get to my point.

I think the best present to give to any age group is the gift of hope. I know what you are saying: vague, right? But let me continue. Hope comes in many shapes and sizes and can come in many forms and hit people in different areas at different times. For example, a man sitting on a couch, in front of his TV, alone this Christmas; his wife recently passed away and this is his first holiday alone. How about a teenager who just found out she is pregnant, or a young child who lives in an abusive home. What about the soldier in a situation with bullets and bombs flying all around him, or a person who just learned the cancer is back, or a couple with zero money to buy anything this Christmas for their deserving children. … Just think a bit.

Some of us have been there in these situations. Somehow, we made it through and became better people on the other side. Scarred, yes, but we made it. There are many situations like these, some worse than even these, but there is hope. Yes, there is.

Hope was born in a manger many years ago and is just as relevant today as it was yesterday. Jesus was God who came to earth as flesh and blood and died for each of us. He died for the worst of us and the best. He saw it all while hanging on the cross. Hard to stomach, I know, but that is also the Good News. He died for the man mourning his wife; He died for the pregnant teen; He died for the child and his abusive parents; He died for the soldier and the cancer patient. He died for me and for you.

A child grew into our Savior and then saved us all, giving us the hope the world needs. The best present I could give any of you is the hope that that, no matter your situation, this child born unto a virgin and to a confused father, surrounded by animals, angels, shepherds and wise men, is right here, right now, sitting with you, holding your hand, loving you, and wants to provide you hope for tomorrow. Cling to that hope, love and compassion. Yes, that is the BEST present of all.

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