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By Norris Burkes Dec 5 2021

The large rectangular box my wife Becky placed under our Christmas tree, many years ago, gave me hope.

I hoped so much that it might be the video console game I wanted. I had even suggested that she collude with her family to cobble the funds together to bring me this Christmas joy.

Finally, Christmas morning arrived. Surrounded by a room full of in-laws, I unwrapped the present and was instantly speechless.

The box contained a case.

From that case I pulled  a well-worn, secondhand, trumpet.

No, Becky’s gift wasn’t a suggestion that I learn to play the instrument.

I’d tooted my own horn for many years and Becky had heard me play many times. Through her earplugs. She knew I was no Louis Armstrong, hence the big surprise.

So why did she buy me a trumpet? Because she knew my history.

She knew that, like a lot of boomers, my parents gave their children musical instruments. A clarinet for my brother, piano lessons for my sister, and a trumpet for me.

At ten years old, I was relegated to the garage where I practiced for hours learning to sit straight, purse my lips, and blow with everything I had. I put a lot of spit in that horn playing for school Christmas recitals, church pageants and marching across the football field with my high school band.

In college, the trumpet mostly lived in the closet, but occasionally I took it out to play Silent Night in church programs or taps on Memorial Day.

Becky and I married after college, but I continued to play my trumpet now and again.

I played it right up to the night it was stolen in a church break-in where I was the student pastor.

When it was taken, I told Becky that the theft didn’t matter. My musical interest had been waning for some time. I would never miss it.

“I’m so over the trumpet.” I claimed. “I’m studying to become a pastor and pastors play the guitar.” For a few years I kept insisting that the theft was inconsequential, and I didn’t need a replacement.

So if that was true, why did I cry the moment I pressed her gift to my lips?

Because my wife had just proved the adage about gift giving: “It’s the thought that counts.”

Becky saw through my denial. She saw how the thieves took a part of my childhood, my memories, and my family tradition. The old trumpet wasn’t something I wanted at all, but Becky knew it was something I needed.

So she combined funds from her family and shopped all the secondhand music stores until she found the perfect used instrument. Then she haggled to purchase the splotchy old trumpet in hopes it would mend the pain of her husband’s loss.

This year, if you don’t know what to get someone for Christmas, you might want to follow Becky’s example.

Look around for what’s missing. Restore what’s been taken. And give someone something they don’t know they want — until they do.

After all, isn’t that the Christmas story? God saw that the world was missing something. Something that had been taken, and because He so loved us, He knew it was something that could be restored.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” John 3:16a.


Contact Chaplain Norris at [email protected] or 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602 or voicemail (843) 608-9715.