We talked about what it might be, and tore into it on Christmas morning. Upon opening it, we looked to our parents asked asked what it was. It looked like we had been sent the wrong package, and somewhere there was a pharmaceutical rep opening up an electric racetrack. My dad laughed and said, "Those are vitamins, son." Vitamins? We got vitamins for Christmas? And these weren't even Flintstones vitamins. They were medication grade vitamins. And it was a whole case. It would have supplied a wing of the nursing home for a year.
My aunt was a Shaklee distributor. She sold products like vitamins and other things. So either she had a bunch of samples left over, or she needed to buy a case to meet her quota and make diamonds, or she really thought these two boys wanted vitamin D for Christmas. Whatever she thought, I can guarantee you the last option was not viable. We weren't picky kids, but to say we were disappointed would be an understatement.
As was our custom, later in the day we called our relatives to wish them a Merry Christmas, and thank them for their gift, if they sent one. I can't tell you how difficult and weird it was for me and my little brother to talk to the aunt on the phone that day. Wishing her a Merry Christmas was easy. But when it came time to thank her for the dozens of bottles of vitamins, I'll admit... my heart wasn't really in it. You can imagine how difficult it would be for an 8 year old boy on Christmas day to say, "Thank you for the case of vitamins."
To be honest, we tried them. I remember the vitamin C was not half bad. But some of the other horse pills were bad enough to gag a maggot. I remember specifically telling her, "The vitamin C tastes pretty good." (Things a kid should never have to say on Christmas.)
The next year we got another box from the same aunt. Since we were kids and had short memories, my immediate reaction was, "Oh boy... a big box..." Then we realized it was from "Aunt Shaklee." There was literally no anticipation for opening that box on Christmas. I mean, there was the outside chance that the previous year was the ultimate setup to send us the most surprising cool toy gift ever... but no... it was another case of vitamins. Once again, we got on the phone and thanked her for the vitamin C.
Aunt Shaklee didn't have any kids. Perhaps she was just trying to unload some overstock. Maybe she really did care about our health. It could be that she thought it better to send vitamins than nothing. I don't know. I never asked her. It may be that in a strange twist of circumstance, the first box was a mistake, but when she heard two little kids thank her for Christmas vitamins she thought she was the coolest aunt ever. I don't know. All I know is that we started to dread the box of what amounted to medicine to boys who would rather try to pull apart a Stretch Armstrong. It became a family joke... like the grandma who would give underwear. Yippee! Gratefully no one in our family gave underwear. We had old socks... but the strongest bones in the neighborhood.
Ironically, at this stage of life, I would probably be glad with some vitamins as a present. Aunt Shaklee wasn't wrong... she was just early.
The most difficult part of those days was not opening a box of vitamins. It was coming up with the words to say to an aunt who gave the wrong gift. On the other end of the gift spectrum, we have God.. who has given us the perfect gift of salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is exactly what we need, when we need it, all the time. I was lost, but now I'm found... was blind, but now I see. How can I say, "Thank you" for that?
The apostle Paul apparently understood the problem of giving thanks for something that is beyond description. So I agree with him when he wrote, "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift." (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Today, as you open up Christ, and He opens up life to you, just be thankful. Be thankful that He is perfect for every stage of your life. Be thankful that He knows what you need as much as He knows what you want.
The story continues tomorrow...
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.