Make no mistake, the “Greatest Gift” is Jesus. But the title of today’s post is in reference to my favourite Archie comic story of all time.
Is there anyone who’s never owned/read/enjoyed an Archie comic at some time in their life? For nearly 75 years, both children and adults alike have followed the (mis)adventures of eternal teenagers Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and Reggie, as they loved, lost, sang, and danced their way through the little town of Riverdale, USA.
Archie first appeared in Pep Comics #22, on December 22, 1941. No one could have known that this clumsy, freckle-faced, red-headed teen and his two “frenemy” girlfriends would go on to become some of the most popular comic book characters in history, producing thousands upon thousands of comics, an animated TV series, and tons of memorabilia. The phenomena that is “Archie” continues to this very day.
When it comes to Archies, I’ve always preferred the little pocket-size “Archie Digest/Double Digest” books to the larger, flatter, standard comic book format. And as I’m sure none of you will be surprised to learn, I have a real soft spot for the Christmas-themed Archies.
For a number of years, there was the annual “Archie Holiday Fun” series, producing just one issue every holiday season. And in the standard comic format, there was “Archie’s Christmas Stocking”. As you can imagine, I’ve read quite a few Christmas-y Archie adventures in my life, and so my “favourite” has been selected from literally hundreds of stories!
A few years ago, I purchased this beautiful 192-page volume, “Archie’s Christmas Classics” — a collection of holiday tales from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. The story selection is wonderful, and I was happy to discover that the book is printed on good old fashioned comic book-style paper, rather than the glossy magazine print that comic publishers seem to be favouring today. (Sorry, but glossy paper is NOT what comics should be made out of!)
Thumbing through the book, I was beyond delighted to discover that my all-time favourite Archie story had made the cut. “The Greatest Gift” is a practical lesson in showing the Christmas spirit. And illustrates the importance of being kind to others.
This two-part story opens with Archie, Betty and Veronica finishing up their Christmas shopping. They come across a crotchety old store owner who’s a real Scrooge. But our teens are soon to discover that cranky Mr. Butler is really just a poor, lonely old man, with no family left, and nothing but a cold, dark apartment to go home to.
So what? He’s just a stranger. There’s nothing that Archie and the girls can do, right? But Archie quickly feels the conviction — the same conviction that I know we’ve all felt at some time or another when we see someone in need, and wonder if perhaps we can/should help. “Something tells me that what we’ve got here is a test case! Perhaps we’re being tested, to see if we merely enjoy Christmas — or if we live it?”
Now I’ll let you read the rest of this Christmas adventure for yourselves. I love this story. I really do. And I hope that you’ll all enjoy it today as much as I’ve enjoyed it for so many years.
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Merry Christmas, my friends, and God bless. Always remember to treat others the way that you want to be treated. Not just at Christmas time, but all the time. A little kindness goes a long way. And even if the other person isn’t grateful, don’t worry. The Lord is watching. And He’s looking to see what WE will do. Make Him proud.