Vic departed from his room one night and behind him a heap of memorabilia lay waiting. No-one knew that he’d never return.
At his death, he owned a small unit, a car and some personal effects, including articles that must have meant a lot to him. He’d kept his childhood teddy: a scrawny mustard-coloured toy with threadbare fur. He left some badges from his life in the Army and a few golf trophies. His hedge-trimming records, with testimonials from extremely satisfied customers, were in neatly compiled notebooks. It was interesting that he owned a family Bible and some books about Jesus and the Holy Land.
Vic was a meticulous bachelor. His two younger brothers cleared away the contents of his home and his friend was glad of their assistance. A woman can’t deal with a man’s personal leavings when they’ve never lived together. Most of his belongings came from an era that she never shared with him, so she left it to the ‘boys’, who agreed to divide it all between them. Maurie brought his share home, along with Vic’s well-made ladder from his secondary school days in the 1930s at Swinburne Technical College.
We examined each small article, and came upon a tissue-wrapped garment. It looked like a baby’s nightgown. It was beautifully made, with entredeux lace on the front, long ties at the waist and an embroidered blue H inside the neck opening. Had Vic owned it all those long eighty-two years of his life?
There were moth holes and a stain on the back. It certainly wasn’t modern; baby boys no longer wear nighties! Could we redeem it for posterity, we wondered, and what did the blue H signify? Maurie had no idea of its history.
After a careful wash, the stain disappeared. My imagination ran through the possibilities. Perhaps it was made in the 19th century? Was it an heirloom that his mother, Daisy, had brought from her homeland in Wales. Their surname began with H. Was it her own baby garment, made by her mother? I suppose we’ll never know.
We took several photos as a record, then donated it to the Historical Society for display purposes. The elderly lady there told me she’d seen a similar one from her mother’s era, so they believed it was old.
As I thought about this small child’s garment, my mind went to the story of Jesus’ birth. His baby garments were called swaddling clothes. None of them have survived, but at the end of his earthly life, he left one seamless robe. It must have been valuable because foreigners gambled for it.
The things we leave behind can show what kind of a person we are. My mother gave away many of her precious things. Her children, grandchildren and friends benefited from her treasures while she was still alive. They have them now to remember her.
Jesus left much more than that. At Christmas we remember how he came as a baby. Like other humans, he was born to die. Unlike Vic, he didn’t stay in the grave. He conquered death and lives forever! His disciple, Peter, wrote in one of his letters:
How fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master, Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven – and the future starts now! ~ 1 Peter 1: 3, 4 (The Message Bible)
At Christmas, it’s good to think about the blessings Jesus left behind and see if they make the celebration more meaningful for us. What did he leave for you?