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DRY CREEK, La. (BP) — Christmas is a time for gifts and there are all types of gifts.

The best gifts come from hands and hearts, created from love and skill.

As Christmas 2011 approaches, I’m obsessed with a gift I saw the other day. I call it a gift from DQ.

I’m not referring to Dairy Queen but to Dwayne Quebedeaux.

Dwayne is a talented carpenter. His older truck sported a bumper sticker, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter.” I admire Dwayne and his wife Allison for their commitment to help others in the name of that carpenter, Jesus.

Two weeks before Christmas, a need arose in Dry Creek. Harold Yancey died of cancer. His only survivor, his son David, insisted that his father be buried in a pine casket. “My daddy worked in the woods and I want him buried in a wooden one.”

That’s fine and good if you’ve got plenty of money. Pine caskets are expensive at a funeral home and David didn’t have the necessary funds.

That’s when DQ stepped in. He volunteered to build a homemade casket for Mr. Yancey. He did a crash course on the size and style needed. A neighbor told me she heard Dwayne’s router and table saw all weekend.

On Monday, Harold Yancey was laid out in that beautiful rough pine casket at Dry Creek Baptist Church. I watched his son’s satisfied look as he examined the work of art — and gift of love — built by Dwayne Quebedeaux.

The entire community pitched in to help. Men from the Bible Church dug the grave. Dry Creek families provided food and sat with the body. Mr. Yancey’s final journey to Dry Creek Cemetery was on the back of a log truck, not a hearse.

We’ll see lots of nice Christmas gifts this week.

Some expensive.

Others crafted with love.

But none will match the gift made by DQ, a pine casket built of love and rough pine, built from Louisiana trees felled by Hurricane Rita’s destruction.

It may seem morbid to feature a casket for a Christmas story.

We’re much more comfortable talking about wooden mangers than pine caskets.

But to fully understand the true story of Christmas, we must realize that Jesus came for a purpose and it was fulfilled with His death and resurrection.

He lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death.

He wasn’t placed in a pine casket but in a rock-hewn tomb.

The best part of the story is that He didn’t stay there. As proof of the fact Jesus is God’s Son and He completely paid for our sin, God raised Him from that grave.

He’s not in any grave nor is He in any manger. He is now seated at the right hand of His Father.

May you celebrate His birth as never before and may you serve Him wholeheartedly with every fiber of your heart, being and soul.
Curt Iles (on the Internet at www.creekbank.net) is a writer and speaker based in his hometown of Dry Creek, La. His latest book, “A Spent Bullet,” and eight earlier books chronicle life among the good folks in the Piney Woods of rural Louisiana. Iles is a deacon at Dry Creek Baptist Church. He and his wife DeDe have three sons and five grandchildren.

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  • Curt Iles