Musical Advent 2017 – Day 16

Track 16: The Power of Love – Gabrielle Applin

Christmas Coins By Sarah M. Eden

My Christmas miracles are few and far between, and when compared with the majestic stories so often retold this time of year, they seem very small and simple. One particular holiday miracle occurred not as a single event but as a string of small moments, interconnected like a paper chain hung on a Christmas tree.

Throughout my childhood, my extended family spent Christmas Eve together. These traditional gatherings were the highlight of the season for all of us—cousins, aunts, and uncles. One particular gathering several years ago proved to be the beginning of a tiny Christmas miracle I will always treasure.

Four generations of my family gathered in my grandparents’ living room as we always did at the end of our Christmas Eve celebration. My grandparents gave a little wooden box to each of their grandchildren. The boxes were plain and unadorned beyond a small gift bow.

Curious, I lifted the lid of my box. Inside sat a few coins. They could not have totalled more than two or three dollars. A slip of paper sat alongside the coins. I pulled it out, my curiosity growing by the moment.

I unfolded the narrow piece of paper. A short paragraph and a photograph of my great-grandfather were printed on it. The paragraph told of my great-grandfather’s life: losing his mother and sister at a young age, being driven from their home in Mexico by Poncho Villa, and barely surviving the hardships of the Great Depression.

He began collecting coins minted in the years the United States produced silver coins, rather than the less-valuable metals used in later years. Rather than spend those coins, he kept them. After a lifetime of financial struggles and difficulties, he wanted something he could pass on to his children that wouldn’t lose its value. Silver was a precious metal, rare and pure. Those qualities gave it value that would last.

He amassed quite a collection. My grandfather, his son, received a portion of these coins and as our Christmas gift that year, he divided them among his grandchildren. I never knew my great-grandfather, but holding these few coins he had painstakingly saved, I felt a connection with him I never had before. We were instructed in the final sentence of the paragraph to treasure the coins as a legacy from him.

I thought back on the coins and the history connected to them in the days and weeks that followed and long after Christmas came and went. My great-grandfather was never a wealthy man who enjoyed the luxury of expendable income. He worked hard to support a family but never grew rich. How tempting it must have been at times to cash in his growing collection of silver to treat himself to something or to ease a financial burden. He never did. These coins were a legacy for his children. They, in turn, passed that heritage on to their offspring.

The next Christmas, that small wooden box joined our other holiday decorations. The coins it held had come to mean a lot to me. They represented generations of humble, hardworking members of my family, most of whom I never knew. They stood as a symbol of all they had passed on to me. I also saw in those coins a reminder of the many things in life that seem insignificant at first glance but that are more valuable than we can possibly comprehend. The Saviour Himself likely seemed unimportant to most of the people He encountered. Too many saw nothing beyond the son of a simple carpenter, yet He was the Redeemer of us all.

Year after year, I placed that box and its treasured contents out as part of our Christmas decorations. The mere sight of it brought to mind years of family gatherings. It brought the Christmas spirit into my heart. Just as the paper inside had instructed, I treasured those coins.

Less than a week before Christmas several years after I had first received those bits of silver, my husband and I moved our small family to a different state as a result of a new job. All our belongings were packed into the back of a moving truck. We spent the holidays unpacking and settling in. There wasn’t time for the usual Christmas decorations. All our lights, the tree, the wall hangings, and my box of coins remained packed away for another year.

By the next November, we were anxious to decorate and begin our holiday celebrations in our new home. The tree went up with all its ornaments. Our traditional advent calendar graced the wall. Lights were strung. We reached the bottom of the last box, and I realized something was missing.

I couldn’t find my box of coins.

Panic set in. I went through every box again but found nothing. I dedicated the next day to searching boxes and bins in the garage, anything that might possibly have my coins inside. That day stretched into a week, that week into two, and still I couldn’t find them. December arrived, and while I wouldn’t admit it out loud, I knew the coins were lost. Likely they had been misplaced in the move, left behind, or accidentally thrown out. The realization left a weight in my chest. These were more than coins—they were treasures, a legacy from my family. I did my best not to think about it, but my heart ached.

A couple weeks before Christmas during my daily scripture study, I came across a passage I had read many times before in the fifteenth chapter of Luke. The Lord shared a parable of a woman who has lost a piece of silver, likely a single coin, and she searched her entire house looking for it. When she finally found her missing coin, the woman called her friends to her and they celebrated over the return of this seemingly insignificant item.

The story had always felt a little exaggerated to me. Why, I had wondered, would she be so desperate to find a coin? Why would they celebrate so much over finding something so small?

I sat in my living room that quiet December morning with my scriptures open on my lap, humbled by what I had just been taught. Had I not spent days and weeks searching my house for something as insignificant as a small box of coins? I came to understand in a way I hadn’t before how powerful the parable truly is.

Christ explained that the coin represented a soul; it represented each of us. How often we seem insignificant and unimportant, yet we are precious enough in the Lord’s sight that when we are lost and wandering, He searches us out. He gave His own life so those who are lost can be found.

Christmas changed for me in that moment. My prayers became filled with gratitude for the birth we celebrate each Christmas, for the life our Savior led, and, perhaps most humbling of all, that He treasured me enough to die for me.

Two weeks passed. The holiday season was in full swing. I had come to terms with losing the box of coins. Its absence served as an object lesson just as much as its presence had. The Lord, I would soon find out, meant to teach me even more of His very personal love.

For reasons I no longer remember, I needed to get into a box of old paperwork to retrieve something. I pulled the box out and cut through the packing tape still on it from our move. The moment I opened the lid, my heart came to a crashing halt.

There, amongst papers I hadn’t looked at in years, sat a small wooden box with a green gift bow taped to the top. I knew in an instant what it was but had no explanation for why it was there. All I had done in preparation for our move was tape it up. I hadn’t so much as looked inside. Yet, there inside were the coins my great-grandfather had so painstakingly saved. They were no longer lost.

My small Christmas miracle began with a mere handful of coins but taught me something as profound as the worth of a soul.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whoso believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

We celebrate at Christmas the birth of our Lord, who loved each of us enough to give His life so all who are lost and wandering can be found.