The Best Gifts at Christmas

Mary felt every bump in the dusty road.

Eighty miles was a very long way for her very pregnant self to straddle the backside of a donkey.

Joseph, feeling the urgency of impending birth, pushed through the teeming horde coming "home" for the census so that he might find a place for his beloved to lie down.

Joseph asked first one and then another, “Have you any room?"

Traditionally it's believed that a harried inn-keeper, moved with concern, offered the weary couple shelter in his humble stable. It wasn't much, but it was enough.

Ray Blum understood that the best gifts aren't always those that money can buy.

The best gifts are given from the heart.

At his memorial service a parade of school buses, filled with grieving students, made its way through the parking lot of Remembrance Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The students waved, paying homage to the 57-year-old man who gave the little he had to make their lives better.

The bold, red headline in the Grand Rapid Press summed up Ray's life this way:

"He was just a huge cheerleader."

He wasn't wealthy. He didn't live a life of intrigue. He never won the Pulitzer Prize. Yet, he made an impact by loving and encouraging others from the confines of his humble home.

Often Ray would find students who had excelled and he would honor that student as "Student of the Week" by placing their name on a sign in his front yard where everyone could see it.

It's estimated that Ray sent out close to 1,000 cards a year.

For years he wrote letters to American soldiers stationed around the world.

For 30 years Ray stood on his front porch each morning, smiling and waving at students on their way to school.

Did you catch that? He smiled and waved. It wasn't much, but it was enough.

Is money tight?

Don't despair. The best gifts aren't always those that money can buy. The best gifts are given from the heart. Have you such a gift to share at this Advent season?

Ronda Knuth