Chinese Church Voices

A Pair of Socks

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In this article from China Christian Daily, Yun Shang shares touching Christmas memories of selflessness, gratitude, and love.

A Pair of Socks: The Most Valuable Christmas Gift I’ve Ever Had

For churches, Christmas Day is coming soon and is a big day to be celebrated. Churches are decorated with Christmas ornaments and with a big Christmas tree covered with lights, on which stands a star symbolizing Jesus Christ, the Savior.

Under the tree lie gifts from church members to others. They buy and wrap the gifts and put them under the tree for those in most need to take away. When I see this, I am reminded of Christmas one year while I was studying theology.

It was a very cold Christmas. Everyone had their gifts prepared for the day. Some had bought a pair of gloves, and some had bought a pair of cotton boots or a scarf. I had bought a USB flash drive which was quite precious at that time and cost me a couple of days' of expense money. One of my classmates, I had heard, had bought a pair of socks worth of only 5 yuan. Everyone thought that she was mean. How could she give a pair of socks as a Christmas gift?

On Christmas day, we randomly exchanged gifts. The gift I received was those socks. I was so sad that I had exchanged my flash drive for some socks. What a terrible Christmas!

After we all had gotten our gifts, the classmate who had given the socks opened her gift box and instantly some money fell out. The money was counted and calculated to be 2000 yuan.

From her desk-mate I learned something about her. After her father had died in a mine disaster, her mother had had a very hard life with two children, lying in bed badly ill, and not able to afford to see a doctor. Classmates wanted to donate money to her, but because of her strong character, she rejected any kind of donation. Thus, her roommates tried to figure out another way to help her.

They finally decided to put money into a shabby paper box as a Christmas gift, and prayed to God that it could make the best contribution.

She was a gentle and quiet person. If a group of people formed a queue, she would not be the one in the front. She behaved that same way at Christmas. She was the last one to pick up a gift after many pretty boxes had been taken. It was the shabby box that she picked up, in which was the money for living expenses prepared by those who cared about her.

What I got was a pair of socks worth only 5 yuan, almost the cheapest one in that pile of gifts. I heard that it was a hard decision for her to spend 5 yuan on a pair of socks, since she spent next to nothing, and the socks she wore were much cheaper—worth 5 yuan per bundle. She wore those disposable socks many times.

Listening to her story, I was reminded of the Bible story in which Jesus praised a poor widow for giving her best—two copper coins, almost all of what she had to live on. This was compared to a large offering from a rich man who had given from his surplus. A gift that seemed insignificant might imply that the giver is trying very hard to love. A wonderful person is the one who does his best when giving, though his offering might not be a large one.

It was too much for her to buy those socks for herself, but she chose to put them in a gift box for her classmate. This is a tribute to her best love. I am so far behind in such great love. My living conditions were quite good at that time. Even a bunch of USB flash drives cost me only a small part of my wealth. However, my bunch of USB flash drives are a small tribute compared to her pair of socks.

Similar misjudgments happen in our daily lives quite often. Someone may try his/her best to love another, while the other from his/her own perspective may resent it. After that Christmas, I took everyone's love for me as their best. So, there is no resentment, but only gratitude. Like that Christmas, I received the cheapest gift and yet the biggest love of all.

There is an old woman without any son or daughter in our church. Every year the church has given her some foodstuffs such as rice and oil, but she still keeps working. Usually, she has made handicrafts to sell at the fair, but she has only been able to make a little money from it. Last year, she made a pair of insoles and put it on the platform of the church as a gift. A lad who picked the gift said that he felt so happy that he could have such insoles, for there was marvelous love beyond description in them. They are more than insoles. They are the expression of love of a lonely old woman to Jesus.

Original Article : A Pair of Socks: The Most Valuable Christmas Gift I’ve Ever Had, on China Christian Daily
Edited and reposted with permission.

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