Belinda and I spent some time this summer with the amazing families and awesome teen staff at Family Camp at Camp Koinonia in Italy Valley, N.Y. Our weekly theme this year was Christmas in July. It was powerful for the families attending camp to focus on the Nativity stories from the Gospel narratives, considering them apart from December’s holiday hustle and bustle.
On Monday, the families reflected on the daily theme of a partridge in a pear tree. On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … a partridge in a pear tree. Family members imagined it was Christmas morning; and they had just been given a pear tree with a live bird in it — a partridge — a medium-sized member of the pheasant family. So, what does a bird in a fruit tree have to do with Christmas or our Catholic faith?
First, we recalled that this gift is a present from our true love. God is the only one who loves us perfectly. Like any loving parent, God wants to bless us with gifts. Because of this perfect love, God’s deepest desire is to give us the most perfect gift.
The partridge in the pear tree represents the best gift God could give us — God’s own self — the gift of Christ hanging on the cross. Jesus came to us, taking on our human flesh, so that he could gain our salvation. The gift of eternal life, the gift of our restored relationship with God, is the best gift that we could ever be given.
There’s only one Savior of the World. There’s only one partridge in the tree. And every verse of the song comes back down to this first gift, to remind us that Jesus should always be number one in our lives.