When I was ten years old, we started a trend among the seven children which is continued to this day. We each had the name of a sibling for whom we would purchase gifts. We were given a limit of how much we could spend, Mom and Dad helped us earn the money, and then we shopped for our selected person. There was one rule--we could make a list of what we wanted, but we accepted whatever we got.
As a young teen my view of Christmas became cynical. It was a stupid holiday. There was no God, therefore no Christ, and those responsible for the ideas of caroling and Santa had way too much time on their hands. I enjoyed shopping for my sibling, but there was no purpose in the gifts--I was just spending money on someone in my family. By the time I was fourteen I simply endured all the "crap", knowing it would be over soon. I spent a lot of time in my room, and came out only when my parents insisted that I do so.
My youngest brother was born when I was eleven. Like puppies and kittens, he was a beautiful baby, but unfortunately, grew out of that by the time he was twelve. However, when I was fifteen, he was four, still beautiful, and I loved him. He had my name for Christmas. As had been my norm for the past three years, I went through the motions of enjoying the holiday. I caroled, I baked, I played games and visited with family, and I escaped to my room at every opportunity.
Christmas morning came. I watched with detached interest as everyone got up excitedly and waited until my father said we could enter the living room. The presents were divided and I waited as everyone opened their gifts. I didn't care what I got. I was numb and sad and there really seemed no point to all that was happening. Suddenly I became aware of a tiny four-year-old snuggled into my side. He looked up at me and asked me to open his presents. I gave him a hug and said, "Of course!" I opened the first package. It held fabric yardage of fake fur--blue. I looked at it in surprise. My little brother, D, stroked the fur and said, "I thought Mom could make you a really nice fuzzy dress out of this. It will be warm and I can pet it when you wear it." I looked at my mom--she was laughing. Accompanying the fur were a pair of sueded leather shoes (actually really nice ones), which D said he knew weren't as good as the fur, but they were fuzzy, too. Eagerly my brother handed me the next gift. I opened it. Therein was a twenty-four inch plastic T-Rex dinosaur. D took it out of the box with some pretend roars, and asked, "If I'm really careful, do you think I could play with this sometime?" Now my dad had joined my mom in the laughter. D handed me his next present. He said, "These are books. Mom said you might read them to me." I opened a set of classics, Dickens, Poe, Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters--this was something I would really enjoy! I promised to read to him anytime he wished. D wiggled onto my lap, hugged me and kissed me. He said, "I'm not telling anyone, but you're my favorite sister, so I got you presents I knew you'd like." Then he ran off to play with his new toys.
I watched my family silently. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I looked at the huge dinosaur and the blue fur. My mother came to me and quietly said, "Sam, he was so excited to buy his gifts--so we let him. I'll replace the fur later, and we can exchange the dinosaur, too." I shook my head, no. Then I gathered my gifts, went to my room and cried. I cried because I wanted to feel what everyone else was feeling, because I was empty and sad. But then my tears changed. I wept because I knew my brother loved me. I hugged the stupid dinosaur, and gently stroked the blue fur, remembering his warmth snuggled up to me, his brown eyes excited, his sweet hug and kiss.
Then I knelt by my bedside and prayed for the first time in four years. I asked God to help me find him. That was all. I went downstairs, ate breakfast with my family and sang with the Christmas music. I thought about the possiblity of Christ. I wondered if such a thing could be real. D came to me with my new dinosaur and we played for about an hour, then I read him to sleep with my new books.
Christmas has since become my favorite holiday. I no longer have the blue fur, but the dinosaur is still mine. It represents the love of a little boy for his big sister and led me to look for love from my Lord and Savior. A plastic tyrannosaurus rex--my own personal religious icon. I believe there is nothing more appropriate for one like me.