After the meal and all of the gifts were opened, the boys would head outside. Behind the house was a fairly steep hill and some of us would race to the top.
Those who made it to the top received a gift. It wasn’t something store bought. All we had to do to get the gift was open our eyes. From the top of the hill in the clear winter air we could see forever in the distance. The cows in the pasture, the trees along the creek and the far away road was our gift. We were on top of the world, and our gift was free.
The view was a first for most of us. We were always looking up at the hill. The hill was too steep for younger kids to climb and required a little work for the older ones. But at least once a year we could look down from the hill. The view was special, and I remember it still today.
This little story may not seem like much. But to those who experienced the gift, it was something special. For some of you, there may be a special place from your childhood when you captured an outdoor memory. Hopefully, you have shared a special outdoor place or experience with someone else.
Some 2,000 years ago we were given another gift. We did nothing to deserve it and to receive it all we have to do is reach out with our hearts. The heaven sent gift was first experienced by people in the outdoors. The shepherds saw a special star, maybe from a small hill under a clear night.
Many people think Christmas is about getting a bunch of gifts. Everyone likes to receive a gift no matter how small or expensive it may be. But Christmas is really about giving. The gift can be something very special. How many times do we think about a gift that would last for eternity and yet cost us nothing.
I saw a sign a few years back. It said, “The best things in life aren’t things.” The outdoors is not something you can wrap in a box or tie a bow around. And while the outdoors can be enjoyed alone, it is always much better when shared with someone else.
Christmas is about giving. While most people may focus on receiving things during this time, the main focus is on giving. More than 2,000 years ago there was a gift given to the whole world. Those who were outside under the stars were the first to hear about the new gift. It is no coincidence the outdoor world points back to this unique gift.
God has given us a very special gift -- that gift is Jesus. He is for all nations, for all people. God has also given us the great outdoors. We should treasure both the gifts and share each one with others.
This Christmas season is an excellent opportunity to share the wonderful gift of the outdoors with someone special. In the next few weeks take some time and present someone the gift of the great outdoors. And tell them about God’s special gift. This will be one that will last forever.
May the blessings, hope and happiness of Christmas be with you and your family.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com.