When I was 7, our Sunday School teacher organized a Christmas party for our class. The children drew names to buy presents for others in the class. I was terrified. I was the only kid in our class who did not go to Flat Creek Elementary where all the other kids went to school. I only saw most of the kids at my church once a week. I also was not very popular at my school. I was the last kid picked for sports and left out of many things.
I was terrified the person who got my name would forget, wouldn't show up, or decide that I didn't deserve a present.
I went to the Christmas party terrified of being embarrassed as the only kid who wouldn't get a present. I sat in the fellowship hall as my mom tried to reassure me that it was going to be okay.
At the start of the party, our Sunday School teacher brought out a huge box covered in wrapping paper.
She asked, "How long has God existed?"
Some of the other children exclaimed, "From the beginning!"
She pulled a strip of the wrapping paper off. Then she asked more questions about the Bible. She pulled off a strip of paper each time one of the children answered correctly. Then the final piece came off. It was time to open the box.
The box was filled with stuffed dolphins. They were green/blue with white bellies and orange fins. There was enough for every single member of the class. No kid was going to be left out. I think I was more relieved than happy. At least I was breathing normally again.
Then came the time for individual gifts. The child who drew my name was the daughter of the Sunday School teacher. I walked away with a stuffed dolphin AND a battery powered rocket on wheels.
I have no idea what happened to the rocket. I know that the dolphin was sold by mistake at a yard sale several years later. My wife of three months asked me a few weeks ago about some of my favorite Christmas memories. I told her this story.
About a week ago, a package arrived. I was instructed by my wife to wait until Hanukkah. I felt the package several times. I thought I could figure it out. But I had no idea. She wanted it to be the first present I opened. I unwrapped it Sunday night. Inside was a stuffed dolphin. My sneaky wife bought me a present similar to the one that had meant so much to me as insecure child. But there's more to this story.
God has a purpose in everything and He connects people who truly love Him with others who have the same deep love for Him. The Sunday School teacher I had as child directed our wedding this year. I hadn't thought about the dolphin story in decades. Perhaps the kindness she and her husband showed to us this year reminded me of her past kindness. I was very fortunate to find a wife who shows the same kindness. Now you know why I have the best Hanukkah dolphin ever and two precious memories.