The young African student listening carefully as his missionary teacher in Tanzania explained why it is that Christians give gifts to each other on Christmas.

"The gift is our expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship for each other," she said.

When Christmas Day came, the boy brought the missionary teacher a seashell of lustrious beauty.

"Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?" the teacher asked as she gently ran her fingers over the lovely countours of the shell.

The youth told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless at the thought of him walking such a long way to procure the shell just for her.

"Why.....why, it's gorgeous.....wonderful....but you shouldn't have walked all that way there and back just to get a gift for me."

The boys eyes brightened as he replied, "The long walk was part of the gift"!

This Christmas, remember that it's not the gift that make Christmas special, but the love and sacrifice of those who give that make Christmas so special.

Remember the Great Giver, who loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to die for our sins.

Remember those who are serving in our military, giving us the gift of another terror-free Christmas in 2009. Remember those who have fallen, and all of the thousands of families that will not be together this Christmas because of a Dad or Mom who is fighting in harm's way.

Merry Christmas to you all.

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