Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

My gifts for the Christ Child

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published January 9, 2014

Whenever I hear the story of the magi, I wonder what presents I might give to Jesus.

Maybe he would like a rose from my garden, hopefully one that had not been chewed on by one of the millions of pests that attack any flower I attempt to grow. If the flower survived mites, worms, aphids and caterpillars—and didn’t have leaf rot or any other disease—I would gladly present it to him.

I’ve never grown a perfect rose, big and fragrant and fluffy like the ones in the books, but I would explain that I’m still trying to get there.
I wish I could give him something I made by hand, but I’m not very talented, I fear. Years ago I made some bowls and mugs in a pottery class, and just before I was going to throw the whole lot of them away—because I judged them too thick, too heavy and too crooked—my husband stopped me.

“They’re beautiful,” he said, holding up a mug that was so squat you could barely fit a thimbleful of coffee in it.

And in that moment I have to admit that suddenly all the pottery looked somewhat better, almost passable. So maybe I would give the Christ Child a crooked bowl or a squatty mug. Babies have a way of using the simplest thing as a toy, and they aren’t critical of anything.
I’d also like to give him something really precious, something I could never replace, something I could never find in a department store, something no one else has.

The one thing that comes to mind is my father’s watch. It is quite old, a wind-up, and truth be told, it only works when it’s in the mood. For many years it didn’t tick at all—and I gave up on it entirely. I took the watch to various repairmen, but they only made matters worse, so I resigned myself to having a watch that would never keep time.

And then one day I took it out of the drawer, put it on and suddenly it started ticking. And I discovered the watch seemed to like the warmth of my arm, and as long as I was wearing it, the watch continued to tick.

So I would definitely give this watch to the Baby Jesus because I think it is magical and I believe it would keep perfect time for him.

I also have a very old green leather diary, which is falling apart. It is from childhood days and is called a “five year diary,” which means there is just the tiniest space for each day—and I guess that’s why it might last someone five years.

I think Jesus would appreciate all the days when a little fat girl who lived in Miami would write plaintively, “Nothing happened today.” I believe he would smile at the many entries that bristled with excitement over an upcoming trip from relatives from New York and then, a week after their arrival, the terse entry that said, “I wish they would go home.”
I was at a funeral recently where a woman was mourning her husband of over 50 years. As I hugged her, a teardrop fell on my arm. It was like the most amazing diamond to me. It bespoke so many years of devotion, friendship, patience, laughter and love.
I would like to take that teardrop and give it to the Lord. As an infant he might not know what tears are, but later, when he grew into a little boy, he would surely know. Little boys are pretty good at falling down, bruising themselves and crying. And much later, as a man, he would shed bitter streams of tears on the night before his death.
So, yes, I would give him a rose, a crooked bowl, my crumbling diary, the temperamental watch and the teardrop. I would kneel before him, kiss him gently on the cheek and whisper about the one thing all the gifts have in common.

They are all imperfect, all unpredictable. They are all little outpourings of my love for him, which I wish could be more perfect and beautiful too.

But I wouldn’t have to tell him any of this, really. He would already know it all.

Lorraine Murray’s latest book is “Death Dons a Mask,” a cozy mystery set in Chelsea Heights in Decatur. Artwork is by Jef Murray. Readers may email the Murrays at