Sunday, February 18, 2018


December 6, 2006 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles


by Terri Tiffany
“I’m sorry. They aren’t here.” The uniformed attendant raised his chin. I listened in a daze as the frazzled gentleman repeated his words with a new twist. “I’m sorry. Your luggage must still be in Philadelphia. You’ll have to call to check for updates.”
Disbelief welled with my tears. Everything we packed to wear for this short vacation, including our gifts, was missing. We wouldn’t have any clothes for the Christmas Eve service or gifts for our relatives. I began to think our clever idea had not been so clever after all.
We had decided to fly to Pennsylvania to surprise my husband’s aging parents. Ever since moving to Florida yearsbefore, we’d longed for a white Christmas. Memories of homemade pies and carols sung around the piano convinced us to book flights at the last minute. We then joined the throngs of other weary travelers headed for their own brand of Christmas joy.
Our teeth chattered as we hurried to the rental car. My lightweight coat did little to warm me in the freezing temperatures. Florida’s balmy nights were a distant memory as were our winter coats packed in our missing suitcases.
 “I need a toothbrush and comb of my own. I won’t borrow those from Grandma.” My daughter crossed her arms in the back seat.
“We’ll stop at Wal-Mart. Run in fast so we can get there before Christmas is over.” I forced my numbed fingers to draw out cash. My husband pulled to the curb of the storefront as my teenager sprinted for the lighted entrance.
 “I really wanted to make a good impression. I brought all our best clothes. What will we wear to church tomorrow night?” My words did little to melt the frost covered window or my mood.
 “You can borrow something from Mom. Dad will loan me something. It’ll work, just wait and see. We can give our gifts when the luggage arrives.”
 “What a time for an airline to walk off the job. It’s Christmas!”
We awoke to snow covered fields and the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls baking in the oven. My mother- in- law’s hot pink sweatpants kept me snug in the upper bedroom of the old farmhouse despite the chill from lack of modern radiators. The Christmas tree in the living room below was piled high underneath with presents. I couldn’t help but mourn that my own gifts wouldn’t be waiting there too on Christmas morning.
 Later that evening, well-meaning family members managed to round up enough sweaters to wear with our jeans to the Christmas Eve service. I cringed at the impression we’d make when we greeted friends we hadn‘t seen in years.
At precisely 7 pm, we snuck into the church in hopes of surprising as many people as we could.
“You’re my best present ever!” My oldest and dearest friend screamed in joy when I tapped her on her shoulder in the sanctuary. She grabbed me in a squeeze meant to last until our next reunion. Suddenly, my presents buried in the belly of an airplane lost all meaning.
When our family finally settled into the pew, the pastor opened his Bible to recite the story shared for generations on Christmas Eve. With skill born of years of preaching, he guided us into a closer look at our Savior’s birth.
A birth where only a stable offered a bed.
 A birth where only torn rags offered a covering.
He reminded us Jesus could have chosen to adorn his head with crowns. He could have chosen satin robes to cover his chilled body. He could have packed endless furnishings from any one of his mansions to give him more comfort than a manger. Instead, He chose to bring only one gift.
His gift of salvation.
I glanced down at the oversized sweater loaned to me by my generous mother-in-law. I fingered my husband’s worn Carhart work coat pulled out for service from his father’s basement. I noticed my daughter pulling at threads from a knitted scarf loaned to her by her younger cousin.

We never did get our luggage returned to us until the day we flew back home. By that time, our jeans were walking on their own and pink floral was starting to look good on me. My daughter even used her uncle’s hair gel. Next year we decided we might just skip the luggage and use backpacks. Our Christmas blessings couldn’t be packed anyway.


Terri Tiffany worked in the Mental Health field as a counselor for over fifteen years before being called into the Christian bookstore ministry. She later moved to Florida with her family where she writes full time. Her inspirational stories have appeared in Purpose, Hearts at Home, Brave Hearts, Cross Times and several anthologies. Please E-Mail her

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