And finally...I asked my Grandpa Arnie, “Whatever happened to your amazing, fantastic, stupendously ugly Christmas sweater?”
“Oh, I outgrew it the next year. So, I gave it to my friend Lucinda, because it would still fit her. She didn’t have a very warm coat – and such a, ahem, “festive” sweater suited her perfectly! Besides, with some of my sweater yarn in her shoe, it just made sense that both the parts of the sweater would want to live close to each other. And THAT’S when the sweater became the best gift ever – because it was something I GAVE. Not something I GOT!
“Grandpa,” I asked, “did Lucinda pass the sweater on to someone else?”
“Well, heh-heh,” he chuckled. “In a manner of speaking, yes. Say, isn’t it time to add Baby Jesus to our manger scene? Why don’t you go get the box he’s in?”
I brought in the wooden chest. Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and the manger were already on the hearth. Only the baby was left – and we always waited until Christmas Day to put him in the manger. I opened up the box, and found the final ceramic piece of our Nativity set. Baby Jesus was wrapped securely in a bright, multi-colored sweater with a giant poinsettia on it! It was Grandpa Arnie’s Christmas sweater! But how did it get here?
“You remember your Grandma Lucy? Well, ‘Lucy’ is short for ‘Lucinda.’ And when we got married, your Grandma still had that ugly Christmas sweater. She couldn’t wear it any more, but she found a certain little baby in a manger who needed it – and it has kept him safe and warm all these years!
“ ‘It just makes, sense,’ she said. “The best gifts aren’t the ones you get. They’re the ones you give! And the child in the manger is proof that God thinks so, too.”