Gifts Fit For A King

We may not have had our usual nativities and carol concerts this year, but we still have the Christmas story, which the children have been studying in their lessons and assemblies. There also remains the thorny issue of choosing an appropriate Christmas gift for that hard to buy for person we may not know very well. Mrs Burnett managed to combine all of this in her recent RE lesson when she asked her class to choose the most suitable gift to give to Baby Jesus.

The aim was for the children to identify and talk about their own priorities in terms of gifts and to broaden their thinking by considering Jesus’ own specific needs. The lesson started with Mrs Burnett reading a section of the Christmas story from an online illustrated Bible. She then moved on to discussing why the people in the story thought it was so important to take a gift to the new born baby and their anxiety about not having anything to bring. This makes me think of the lines from Christina Rossetti’s famous carol, In The Bleak Midwinter: ‘What can I give Him, poor as I am?’ The poet realises that the size and scale of the gift matters far less than the fact the giver gives with their heart.

Similarly, the children and Mrs Burnett decided that the best gift anyone could bring was one that showed they were thinking about Jesus and celebrating his birth. It didn’t matter in the slightest whether they were rich or poor. With that in mind, how much thought did the three kings put into their gifts? After all, in their important lives, they would no doubt be accustomed to taking gifts to foreign rulers, perhaps as much to advertise their own wealth and power as anything else. Maybe Jesus liked the sparkle of the gold. Perhaps the spicy fragrance of frankincense was welcomed in the small and crowded stable on Christmas night, and the myrrh was a useful ointment to soothe the baby’s skin. Mrs Burnett took time to explain what these gifts were, as the strange names are difficult for children to remember. Interestingly, the children felt that gold would make the most suitable gift for Jesus as it was the most expensive.

Next, Mrs Burnett produced a selection of potential gifts for Jesus. There was a hammer, a recipe book, a blanket, a cuddly rabbit and a bottle of hand sanitiser. It is fair to say that the children were taken aback at some of these suggestions and thought that their teacher definitely needed some help!

Mrs Burnett insisted that the hammer would be useful for making running repairs to the manger, but the children were quite clear that such an item was completely inappropriate for a baby. Ted explained that the hammer was much too heavy and Jesus could be hurt by it. Even Mrs Burnett’s suggestion that the hammer could prove useful in future if Jesus wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and learn the trade of carpentry did little to convince the class. The hand sanitiser was another definite no. Although I’m pleased to report that the children appreciated the importance of good hand hygiene, Molly in particular was worried about the ingredients in hand sanitiser. He was too young, she feared, and could accidentally drink the contents of the bottle, which would make him ill. The cookery book came next and fared little better. Mila pointed out that, as a baby, Jesus could not read and was far too young to be thinking about cooking dinner.

That just left the blanket and the cuddly rabbit, and this time the children were unanimous in their support, as you can see from the pictures. Louise was happy to think of Jesus warm and cosy beneath his blanket in the stable. Sebastian, Molly and Isabella wrote about the rabbit because it felt so soft. I am sure Baby Jesus would be very grateful for their kindness.