From Generic to Specific

From Generic to Specific 

by Kevin Butler

       I’ve shared this story locally at Christmastime, but I believe the main message goes beyond the season. The characters are real; the situation was not.


The week before Christmas vacation, it was time to exchange gifts at our 5th grade class! The girls had picked other girl names, the guys got other guy names.

Mrs. Murphy started reading off the gift tags, “girls first” of course. Finally, Mrs. Murphy said, “All right, boys—are you ready?” Were we ready?!

David Havener. Francis McDonough. Danny… —and she paused, because it could be Danny Deal, Danny Vollmer or Danny English. It was Danny Deal.

Norman Houck. (Oh, yeah! That was ‘MY guy’ that Mom and I shopped for.)

This went on and on for what seemed like “forever.” Then Mrs. Murphy said, “Kevin…”

I started to get up and began rehearsing in my mind, “Thank you, thank you very much…”


Kevin Dardano? Kevin DARDANO??? Oh man, he lives out in the country in that huge house, and his Dad runs the Rexall Pharmacy in town—he doesn’t need any present!! She read a few more names, and then there were NO MORE gifts under the tree.

“Did everybody get something?” Mrs. Murphy asked.

I raised my hand slowly. “Um, Mrs. Murphy, I didn’t get one.” Apparently my giver was either sick or he forgot.

“Oh, Kevin,” she paused. “Up behind my desk, there’s a present for you wrapped in blue paper.”

Now that’s more like it, I thought. Excuse me, but I’ve got a special present behind the teacher’s desk. It must be SO BIG that it can’t fit under the tree! Make way for the special recipient of… of… a VERY SMALL blue box.

There must be some mistake here. This can’t possibly be for… And then I read the nametag on the gift: “Boy.”

As everyone else was unwrapping their gifts given specifically to them, I unwrapped a six-inch ruler (from the local pharmacy) and a Bozo the Clown pencil eraser.


Christmas—the REAL Christmas— goes beyond “Generic.”

Christmas—the arrival of Jesus—happened at a specific time for a specific reason.

God the Father sent his specific Son into this specific world to a specific couple who would go to a specific barn for the baby to be placed in a specific manger.

Angels told specific shepherds on a specific hillside to go to a specific village to worship a specific baby who would be the light of the world.

Some specific wise men followed specific prophecies and brought specific gifts to a specific house for a specific future King.

“God so loved the world…” can sound pretty generic. But if you make it specific, it can change your life. Forever.

“For God so loved… Kevin Butler.” (And even Kevin Dardano. He was a good guy.)

“For God so loved your name, that He gave his [SPECIFIC] Son, that if your name believes in Him, you will not perish, but you will have eternal life.”

The brightest Light of the World, Jesus, was very special. He needs to be singled out and remembered.

Christmas is way more than a generic holiday. God gave Jesus for you, and you, and you, and each one of you!

May YOU be a beacon of love and light for someone special and specific this year!

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