Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, the manifestation of the Christ-Child to the world. In many countries the exchange of gifts happens not on Christmas day but on the feast of Epiphany, following the example of the Magi who offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus.
Children look forward to receiving gifts, toys, surprises, and plenty of food at Christmas. But hardly any of them thinks of what to give the birthday Celebrant himself.
Here’s what the children of Tacloban and Leyte said, when asked what gift they will give Jesus:
Lean Bagares, 9 years old
I will give him thanks that I am still alive – in spite of the many storms that passed through our country.
James Magdua, 10 years old
I will celebrate with the Noche Buena. I will thank Jesus that I was able to hold on to a piece of wood during the storm surge and because of that I did not drown.
Maria Angela Didal, 9 years old
My gift to Jesus is to help the people who still do not have homes. I will save whatever I can get from the carolling/ pamamasko so that I can give it to them.
Juriz Inigo G. Tualla, 7 years old
“My gift to Jesus is my greatest sacrifice.” “Huh? What is that?” “Magpapakabait na po ako! I will try to be good!”
Mary Anne P. Pateno, 11 years old
I will make people happy; I’ll make them laugh. And I will share my best online casino toys to children who have nothing for Christmas.
Jay Lord V. Perino, 12 years old
He came to church for Christmas day dripping wet. “My gift to Jesus is to help others, to give food to those who are hungry.” He promptly showed a goody bag with snacks, a pair of slippers, etc. ready to be shared.
Alona Sarneo, 11 years old
Quiet and observant, she didn’t say a word. But after the others have left, she asked: “Where are you going, Sister?” When I told her I was going to another barangay, she offered to accompany me and showed the way. And when given a teddy bear as a present, she eagerly shared it with her brother and sisters. Her special gift was expressed not in words but through her open and generous heart.
The children’s gifts to Jesus may not be gold, frankincense and myrrh, but they are precious nonetheless. The experience of Yolanda opened their eyes to the harsh realities of life and death. It also filled their hearts with mercy and compassion for their neighbors in need, remaining joyful through it all.