It's Christmas Eve, and many, many years ago, Joseph and Mary would have been on their journey to Bethlehem.

Thinking about these two young, humble souls, traveling, carrying only their belongings, and anxiously anticipating the birth of Jesus, I feel certain that their day looked much different than ours today. While we prepare our gifts for one another, they were preparing for the gift of all gifts, the only gift that this world would ever need.

After giving birth in a stable, as there was no room in the inn, they wrapped the baby up and laid him in a manger to ensure he stayed warm. Soon after, the wise men traveled and brought gifts of their own to the greatest gift of all.

On that day – Christmas Day – God sent his son Jesus so that we could have life, so that we would know peace, so that we could fully experience true joy and understand true mercy and grace. This gift included a constant comforter in times of trouble and brokenheartedness.

Wrapped in that swaddling cloth was the only gift that gives a daily blessing.

For most of us, our Christmas day will be filled with love, family, and memory making. There will likely also be a time of exchanging gifts. While wrapping, sharing, and opening those gifts, please remember that the One True Gift has already been given.

The fancy packages, pretty bows, and toys that put a certain sparkle in a little child’s eye are enjoyable for a time but will last only for a season.

I pray that we all share the free gift of God's love, embodied through his Son, with each friend, family member, and even stranger we meet on the street. When we have Jesus, the giver of life, truth, peace, comfort, and joy, we have all we need. I pray each of you experiences the true reason we celebrate.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!’” Luke 2:13-14

Ashley Carter is a wife, mother, and grandmother living in Elmore County, where she and her husband run Farm to Table Living and Carter Farms. Ashley serves as Controller and Executive Assistant at 1819 News. She is currently working on an inspirational book of short stories. To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email [email protected].

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