Celesta lived with her mother and father and three older brothers, Peter, James, and Henry, and her two younger sister, Mary and Martha. Mary and Martha were twins.
Now they lived in a smallish house, and Celesta had to share a room with the twins, and all three of the boys had to share a room. It was also drafty, so in winter, Celesta often woke up with both of her sisters in her bed.
They didn't have much money, but they always made do, especially since they had plenty of love to go around.
Now, it was Christmas Time, and Celesta was excitedly looking forward to it. Imagine her disappointment when her parents told them that the didn't have enough money for presents this year. The twins were still too young to understand Christmas presents, and the boys were old enough to understand going without, so only Celesta ...
"But ... but ..." Celesta complained, her lip trembling, "Christmas isn't Christmas without presents!"
"Now, Celesta," said Father. "It's not our choice. Besides, I'm sure Grams will still be sending us a nice package."
Celesta wrinkled her nose at the thought. "Grams always just sends us socks!" she complained.
"But they keep your toes warm," said Mother. "And you know how cold it gets."
But Celesta refused to be talked out of her disappointment. She had been looking forward to Christmas and all the presents she would be getting. Well, they never had many presents, but there always had been presents.
When Mother pulled out the tree, she refused to help put it up. "What's the use?" she asked. "There won't be any presents."
"Celesta," said Mother, "I know you're disappointed that we won't be getting any of you any presents, but you're stubbornness is going to completely ruin Christmas. Christmas isn't about Presents, you know."
"But Presents are so much fun!"
"Yes," said Mother, "they are fun - but so are so many other things about Christmas. And we're still getting the best present of all."
Celesta looked up. "The best present of all? And what's that. Or can you not tell me because it will spoil the surprise on Christmas day?"
Mother chuckled. "It's Jesus! The whole reason we have Christmas. So we can remember that God sent us Jesus as a baby to earth."
Celesta frowned again. "But that was years ago! We can't unwrap him on Christmas day!"
Mother sighed. "Celesta, sometimes the best presents are the ones you can't unwrap - like Jesus. It might of been years and years and years ago, but it's still just as important today that he came to earth as it was when he came to earth two thousand years ago."
"But I want to unwrap my presents on Christmas Day!" moaned Celesta.
Mother, seeing that there was nothing more she could say, left Celesta to pout while she finished putting up the decorations with the other five.
When they went caroling on Christmas Eve Celesta didn't want to go. However, since the rest of her family were going, she had to go, too. So they all got bundled up, and headed down the street to sing. Since her heart wasn't in it, Celesta just mumbled the words. Luckily, since the rest were singing so much louder, the people they were singing to didn't notice.
When they finally got home, Celesta plopped down on the couch and sat there dejectedly while her family got ready for bed. She must have dozed off, since next thing she knew, it was morning! Christmas Morning! And, to her amazement, there were too many presents under the tree to count!
She rushed to the tree to examine the gifts. Somehow she was no longer in the coat she was in the night before, but in her pajamas - which she thought was strange, because had her mom had dressed her the night before, she would have thought that Dad would have also carried her to bed. As she was looking at the to-from labels, her brothers and sisters appeared in the living room doorway. They didn't seem surprised at all to see all the presents.
Soon their parents came in, and okayed them starting to unwrap, so they did. There seemed to be no end to the presents - dolls, crafts, dress-up clothes, books with lots of pictures, and on and on. She kept expecting them to find the last present, but every time she looked the tree, there were still lots more presents left. She was starting to get overwhelmed - how was she going to be able to PLAY with all these presents?
Then she noticed the Nativity. It didn't look at all like it should. Mary, Joseph, the Shepherd and the Wise Men were all opening presents and the Baby Jesus was stuck off in the corner.
"That's not how it's supposed to be," she told her Mother.
"What?" said Mother.
"Mary and Joseph and the Shepherds and the Wise Men aren't supposed to be opening presents - they're supposed to be worshiping Jesus!"
"What do you mean, dear?" asked Mother. "Aren't presents what Christmas is all about."
"But ..." said Celesta, confused. "Jesus is what Christmas is all about. It's Jesus."
Suddenly she felt as though she was being shaken, and heard the twins calling her name and telling her to wake up. She opened her eyes and realized that it had all been a dream. She was still on the couch, but the only thing that had changed about what she was wearing was that her coat and shoes had been taken off, and a blanket had been put over her.
She looked at the Nativity. It was how it should look - Mary, Joseph, Wise Men and Shepherds all worshiping the Baby Jesus - the true meaning of Christmas. The tree only had the box from Grandma under it - but Celesta didn't mind any more. She liked socks, after all.
They ate breakfast - pancakes and syrup - Celesta's favorite, then Dad read the Christmas story from Luke, answering questions as they were asked. Then they opened the package from Grandma. As predicted, everyone got socks - two or three pairs each.
Celesta thought that she had never had a better Christmas, despite the fact that there were no presents. Just then, there was the sound of the doorbell. Dad opened the door. It was Celesta's friend, Gerta from Sunday School, as well as Gerta's little sister, Hallie, and Gerta's parents. Gerta's dad was holding a good-sized box.
"Gerta and Hallie found out that your children weren't getting any presents this year," said Gerta's mom, "so they insisted that they give them some of their presents."
Celesta's parents invited them in, and they had cookies and hot chocolate, then Gerta and Hallie insisted that Celesta and the twins open the presents they brought them. They hadn't brought any for Peter, James or Henry, since Peter, James and Henry were all boys, and Gerta and Hallie were both girls, and had only gotten girly presents. They didn't think the boys would have liked dolls. The boys agreed.
It doesn't really matter what they had brought them, because, as Celesta learned, presents weren't the reason we have Christmas - they're just a nice bonus. Jesus is the reason.