Lessons from a Dollhouse

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Choosing a Christmas tree is exciting for any child and I was no different. 


My mother picked me up from school that particular day in early December and we drove to the nearby nursery to choose our balsam fir. The details of choosing the tree are a little sketchy in my mind now, but what followed is not.


While she paid out, mother handed me the car keys to unlock the trunk. The gloved worker followed me out to our mustard Monte Carlo and I confidently inserted the key into the lock


As the car trunk popped open, my eyes fixated on the contents…a pink doll house, still in the box. Realization flooded me that I had stumbled upon my own Christmas gift, and my nine-year-old mind scrambled with my next steps.


You see, we had a rule in our home:


Snooping for gifts was highly forbidden. It was seen as an act of greed and entitlement to assume you deserved a gift in the first place. So much so, that if you found your present, it was immediately returned and not replaced. 


As I averted my eyes to pretend ignorance, my mother’s eyes met mine. The truth was out.


My mother wasn’t much on immediate confrontation, so we rode home together in silence


I’d found my gift, but it really wasn’t my fault. Would the rule be strictly enforced or would I still get the dollhouse?


The next several weeks were misery.


Christmas Eve arrived and we celebrated with my older sister and her family, as usual. Our tradition included exchanging most of our gifts, eating a big meal, and possibly playing a game or two. 


After loosing several rounds of “Crazy 8”, I excused myself from the table.


The doll house was no where to be seen and my anxiety was on full alert


The next morning, I opened my eyes with less excitement than I had in years past. 


It was the day of reckoning.


I rolled out of bed and went toward the tree. 


Christmas Day was always quiet in our home. My forty-something parents usually let me discover my stocking alone and crept in as I went to see the “Santa” gift, left overnight underneath the tree. 


As I feared, there were no gifts underneath the tree.


As some consolation, my stocking seemed full and I reached inside to pull out the contents. 


There, wrapped carefully in cellophane, was a large piece of cornbread. (In case you are wondering, this is the Texas version of “coal”.)



This was it. This was the Christmas that I deserved.


As tears streamed down my face, my mother’s face appeared around the corner. 


We have a rule in our house, Kandy. If you greedily snoop for a gift, then none will be given.”


I knew the rule and grief-stricken, I shook my head in agreement.


Then she continued, “Yet, sometimes it’s far better to extend something called grace than to stick to the letter of the law. Do you know what grace is?


I didn’t, but I was about to learn.


Grace is where you are given more than you deserve.


Grace is something somebody does for you despite what the rules say.


Grace started in the heart of God – and because of His grace to me, I’m extending my grace to you. Now, go and peek behind the couch.


As you have figured out, the pink dollhouse was tucked just so – right behind our sofa.


But, it’s not the dollhouse that I came away remembering this Christmas over forty years later – but the grace


This season is all about God’s favor towards us. 


But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)


Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” (Romans 5:1)


Will you extend grace to someone this season? It’s the perfect time to do so you know.