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With moistened eyes, I held the Bible close and with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace, realized what the girls had given me: the most perfect Christmas gift.

The Most Perfect Christmas Gift


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By —— Bio and Archives November 27, 2017

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The Most Perfect Christmas GiftStanding at the post office window, I placed the tattered Bible in a box, but before sealing it, I lay my hand on the little black book … and remembered.

The book and I have always been together. Periodically, when its spine and pages separate, when handling has marred the cover’s gold lettering, I mail it to a bindery.

Standing at the post office window, I placed the tattered Bible in a box, but before sealing it, I lay my hand on the little black book … and remembered.

The book and I have always been together. Periodically, when its spine and pages separate, when handling has marred the cover’s gold lettering, I mail it to a bindery.

In 1961 when Dr. J. T. Hall, my high school principal, handed me a diploma, Mama handed me the Bible.

“Son, promise you will take it with you wherever you go,” she said. “It’ll be there when you need it the most.”

I promised. Throughout college, it was in a footlocker. During the Vietnam Era when I served overseas, it was packed into a duffel bag. When I enrolled in graduate school, it was shelved alongside textbooks. As Mama said, it was always close at hand when I needed it the most.

On this late Fall day, as I stood with my hand on the book, my companion for a half century, I realized it wasn’t with me just because of a promise made, but also because it was the living word of God, unfailingly providing comfort, reassurance, and answers when they are needed the most.

The devout Christian lady to whom I made that promise had gone to her final resting place long ago, and a decade after her death I held the book as I looked down at my father’s grave, freshly dug beside hers.

“Well, do you want to mail it or not?” the postal clerk asked, looking over my shoulder at the line of customers waiting their turn. I apologized, handed it over, paid the fee, and left, knowing I wouldn’t hold the book again for months.

At Christmastime, my daughters and grandchildren don’t fret over gifts for me; I always want the same thing — a bestselling novel. They buy it, write loving little notes inside its cover, gift-wrap it, and give it to me on Christmas morning.

Far more valuable than the books are the messages they write in them. Over the years, these notes have evolved from unreadable chicken-scratch hieroglyphics to heart-felt messages that are read over and over.

In early December, when one of my daughters was about to mail Christmas cards, I handed over the key to our post office box and asked her to check it. Upon returning, she gave me a few letters, but didn’t mention a package that arrived.

On Christmas morning, I feigned surprise as I unwrapped my gift, knowing what was inside. Then my oldest daughter gave me another gift.

While opening it, I muttered, “How often have I told you girls not to spend money on me at Christmastime?”

Mild reproach gave way to joy when I saw my Bible, beautiful in its new cover with gold lettering. With moistened eyes, I held the Bible close and with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace, realized what the girls had given me: the most perfect Christmas gift.   

Jimmy Reed -- Bio and Archives |

Jimmy Reed is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran, former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer, and retired college teacher. His collection of short stories is available via Squarebooks.com, telephone 662-236-2262.

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