My favorite Christmas memory as a child happened the year my dad lost his job. That was the year Cabbage Patch dolls were all the rage. In case you are not a child of the ‘80s, they were one-of-a-kind cloth dolls with plastic heads that came with birth certificates and adoption papers. All the girls wanted them for Christmas.
They were also expensive.
My family was scraping by on my mom’s teaching salary. Even though it was a gift I longed for, I knew in my heart it wouldn’t be possible. I didn’t want my parents to feel bad about it so I kept my wish to myself.
My mama, however, had different plans. She found a woman from our church named Delores, who was making handmade dolls similar to the name-brand ones and charging much less. Delores had cared for me when I was in the church nursery. She painted the dolls faces and crafted their hair, making each one with unique features. Mama commissioned her to create a doll for me with the same chai latte skin tone, freckles, dark brown pigtails, and even a diamond-shaped beauty mark on her right cheek just like mine.
On Christmas morning, my brother and I raced downstairs to the tree eager to dig into the treats in our stockings and unwrap the gifts beneath the tree. I was surprised when I saw a hand-sewn, quilted baby carrier nestled among the other wrapped gifts. With sparkling eyes, Mama and Daddy encouraged me to open it.
Inside was the most beautiful doll I’d ever seen with lush, dark chocolate hair and my similar features. I was stunned. How did they do it? How did they know what I’d wanted?
I named my doll Kailani, which was my middle name meaning “heavenly child of the sea” in Hawaiian. That doll was my treasure for years. I cared for her, cuddled her, styled her, read to her, and talked to her about all my dreams. Cradling her in my arms, I cared for her like my own baby — never imagining God would one day give me three baby girls.
Kailani was a sweet reminder that God delights in giving us good gifts. He gave Delores and my mama the gift of creativity to fashion this doll just for me. And the best part was that Kailani looked like me. She wasn’t like all the other Cabbage Patch dolls. In my second-grade mind, she was more beautiful and perfect than if we had had the money to buy the name brand one. Decades later, I’m still savoring the memory of receiving that handmade gift.
In the book of James, Jesus’ half-brother, reminds us:
Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.
James 1:17-18 (HCSB)
Friends, sometimes in life we may find ourselves longing for something that someone else has. She might be especially adept in the kitchen or inspiring when she speaks on the stage. Your friend might have a way with words or beautiful features or that cute pair of shoes you’ve always wanted. We can focus on that specific gift that our friend has, or we can unwrap the generous and perfect gifts God has handcrafted uniquely for each one of us.
Maybe He painted you with freckles or shaped you with naturally curly hair. Maybe He molded you with a gift for organization or singing or gathering people. Maybe your gift is being able to see the person in the room who is hurting or on the fringes. Whatever your unique gift, embrace it. Receive it. Rip off the paper and use it for His glory!
As we draw near to Christmas, let’s remember the most perfect gift God gave each one of us. When He sent his son Jesus as a newborn baby to earth, He made the greatest sacrifice of all time. He knew when He gingerly placed His precious child in that rough manger that Jesus would one day have to die a horrible death on the cross. He gave up His most treasured possession to gift us freedom from sin and eternal life. Friends, this is not a gift we can earn or strive for. It’s unmerited and undeserved but given with unabashed love and grace. In all our traditions and gatherings this week, let’s not forget the True Gift — Jesus.
Amen!!! Awww I can just picture you and Kailani in my mind. Beautiful story! Great reminders too. God bless you and your beautiful family 🙂
Thank you for your encouraging words. I’m glad this resonated with you!
A wonderful reminder of the true gift of the season. And all year long.
So true, Madeline! I’m preaching to myself. We have to keep coming back to the heart of Christmas.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Dorian yes I remember the cabbage patch dolls. My youngest sister had one. This will make you laugh. My youngest sister wanted for Christmas. When she read how they were made as she thought. It said grew with Love and care picked when ready from a cabbage patch. Something along those lines. It might not be word perfect. Then my youngest sister said. Mum you must have grew us cared for us the same way. Then picked us from the cabbage patch when ready. To bring us home look after. My Mum said yes that is how I got you. Just agreeing with my Youngest sister who was only I think 5 or 6. As too young to know the truth of where she came from and how she was made. I did laugh as then I was 13. I knew the truth as been taught it at Secondary school. I knew better to say nothing. As my Mum would have been cross. To keep my youngest sister innocent and as sweet as possible for as long as possible. As kids grow up far to fast. Know far to must. Let them be innocent and kids as long as possible. Then my youngest sister. Said saying I got this cabbage patch doll from Santa. Santa thought it the best one for me to look after. I going to look after it like you Mum looked after us. My youngest sister did love that doll. She did look after it as if was kind of real. But it bring me to God. That made us we are is Handcrafted children. All loved and unique in our own ways with the personalities to go with it. We are his precious Children. That he cares for us just the way a mother cares for her kids. But with a grater love. Plus my youngest sister cared for her cabbage patch doll. We are different but God made us all different in shape colour and size. So we also know we are unique in our own ways. So we are God’s Handcrafted people. Knitted together especially if saved to show the world his love by the way we live our lives. That sink colour shape or size don’t come into it. We are all Loved the same by the God who made this world we live. Sure he loved us all by dying for us on Calvary. No greater love. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little. Keeping you all incourage in my prayers. Xx
Thanks for your thoughts and memories, Dawn. I’m glad this resonated with you!
I loved this. Thank you!
I appreciate that, Courtney! Thanks for reading!
this is so beautiful…thank you for this!! I love your tweet but I am adding another favorite that you said to it…: ‘Friends, sometimes in life we may find ourselves longing for something that someone else has. We can focus on what someone else has, or we can unwrap the generous and perfect gifts God has handcrafted uniquely for each one of us. “Whatever your unique gift, embrace it. Receive it. Rip off the paper and use it for His glory!” -@dorinagilmore….. we need to remember that all we have, all we are, and all we are to be are gifts from Him for Him!! all to Him – All to Him!!
So true, Tamara! Let’s unwrap the gifts He’s already given us and flourish together!
Beth Williams says
God is the giver of perfect gifts. He knows what each one of us needs. Christmas is the time when we receive the most perfect gift of all–Jesus. The one who left the splendor of Heaven to come down to broken Earth & die a horrible death to save us. This post reminds me of two songs: Leaving Heaven by Matthew West https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvfKG8BFBd8
& It’s About the Cross by Go Fish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjOR4PBzvbo
Even in the midst of all the sad & hard this Christmas let’s unwrap the best gift ever given Jesus & be thankful for what He’s given us.
Ruth Mills says
I read the title of your post and thought how God has given us the perfect gift of his Son to save us but He also gifted us with talents & skills to serve Him & bring Him glory. I spent the last hour texting friends a note of thanks for how they blessed me by serving our precious Lord. Then I read your beautiful post. In just a title you spurred me to encourage others and then meat of your post spurs me to further worship our great God! Bless you dear sister!
I LOVE how the title of this post prompted you to encourage others and worship God! Merry Christmas!
Beautiful! A timely reminder.
Thank you for reading, Prasanta! I love that you had a handmade Cabbage Patch too!
This is so cute and sweet and true.
Thanks for reading! Let’s speak truth to each other in love!
Beth Williams says
God certainly knows how to give good gifts. He knows exactly what we need. Christmas is the best time to unwrap the greatest gift ever given-Jesus. The one who left the splendor of Heaven to come down to sinful Earth & die a horrible death. What better gift could we receive than to have our sins forgiven, a mansion in Heaven & living with Jesus for eternity?
This post reminds me of two songs: Leaving Heaven by Matthew West & It’s About the Cross by Go Fish. This year in the midst of the hard I’m going to sit back & enjoy the most precious gift anyone could ever give me. Won’t you all join me. Unwrap the most generous, perfect gift ever given.
I’m joining you in savoring these gifts, Beth! Merry Christmas!