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The Best Worst Christmas Gift Ever (by Phyllis Robertson Thomas)

By: Phyllis Robertson Thomas

The best worst Christmas gift I’ve ever received started innocently enough in 2017. My oldest son, Grant, had told his girlfriend, Julie (now my daughter-in law), that he was interested in learning more about his family genealogy. Being the kind and thoughtful person that Julie is, she surprised Grant with an Ancestry DNA kit for a Christmas gift. Little did she know, that creative gift idea almost ruined Christmas that year!

Julie planned ahead and had Grant spit in the tube in mid-November so he would have the results back in time for Christmas. When the results arrived, she printed a copy to wrap and place under the tree. Could she be any more lovable?!

By the time my husband, Tony, and I arrived from being away in the mission field for an extended time and met Julie, Grant, and the rest of the family for Christmas, Grant had his results. He also had some questions. It seemed that his results didn’t line up with what we expected in terms of ethnicity. In fact, we questioned Ancestry DNA’s credibility. My brother, Roger, quickly assessed that either everything we’d been taught about our heritage was incorrect, or he and I didn’t have the same dad.

What I should have felt in that moment was confusion or disappointment. I felt neither. I felt resigned. I felt something shift that was resoundingly truthful. I had always questioned why I was different than my brother and sister, who up to that moment, were full siblings as far as I had been raised to believe. Now, those differences I’d always felt were rising to the surface. Growing up, there were not only physical differences but personality and emotional differences as well. I was different, even a little weird, compared to them and the rest of my family on my father’s side. In fact, I even directly asked my mom years ago if my “dad” was my “real dad.” Her mumbled “yes” as she looked down only served to increase my doubts.

The Christmas present from Julie to Grant had opened a Pandora’s box. Julie felt just awful. I remember Grant sarcastically saying, “Well … thanks, Julie!” Her eyes were wide, and I could tell she wished she could go back and choose another gift, any gift, that wouldn’t break open some long-lost secret. I reassured her. If any irregularity existed, it had existed long before that ancestry test. None of this was her fault. To Julie, it was the worst gift ever! But to me, it was the gentle nudge I needed to find the truth of who I really was. It was definitely no surprise to God.

My sister, Doressa, quickly submitted her own Ancestry DNA test for us to compare. I dragged my feet a while until I sent in my own test in October 2019 and had my results in November. Sure enough, the results revealed that my sister and I were half-siblings. I wasn’t surprised. I learned that I was unplanned, born out of infidelity and alcohol abuse. My life as I’d known it was a lie. My genealogy wasn’t looking so great.

Our family was together again that December for Christmas when God lovingly spoke to me and reminded me of Jesus’ own genealogy. His was not the “pristine lineage” that typically leads to a king. It was a twisty and sketchy pathway to the Messiah.

There was Tamar, who posed as a prostitute to conceive Perez. Then Rahab, a gentile and actual prostitute, who helped out the Israelites and ultimately bore Boaz. Ruth, a virtuous fellow gentile and widow, became the wife of a king and follower of Yahweh. She was Obed’s mother and great-grandmother to King David. King David’s story unfolded with a checkered path of stealing Bathsheba and committing adultery and murder, which ultimately led to the birth of Solomon. Finally, the Virgin Mary, married to Joseph who is from a crazy lineup of characters, bears Jesus.

Jesus’s “earthly” lineage was questionable to say the least, but God did what He does best. He made Jesus, who had what could be considered the worst earthly lineage, to be the Messiah and the very BEST and ULTIMATE Christmas gift ever: the Savior of the world!

I’m thankful that because of Jesus, finding my biological father ultimately has a happy ending. From the moment it was confirmed that I am the daughter of the Duck Commander, Phil Robertson, the entire Robertson family has welcomed my family and me with open arms and loving hearts. They are the perfect example of what the love of Jesus does: It restores. It renews. It brings a brand new beginning. In my new beginning, I’ve learned that my dad is a pretty cool dude who has led thousands to Christ!

Jesus is the author of my story and yours. He brings beauty from ashes. He redeems our past. I’m forever grateful for my daughter-in-law’s gift that gave me my real dad. It was the best “worst” Christmas gift ever!

About Phyllis Robertson Thomas

Phyllis (Robertson) Thomas had the surprise of a lifetime when she discovered, at the age of 44, that she is the daughter of Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander patriarch of the famous “Duck Dynasty” family enterprise. She and her husband, Tony, are enjoying getting to know their newfound family, even learning how to duck hunt while she continues her nursing vocation. They have two grown sons and two lovely daughters-in-law.

This piece originally appeared on LisaHentrich.com.

3 Comments
  • Lydia Oboyle
    December 25, 2020 at 5:26 am

    What a testimony I have been Blessed watching the Robertson family and listening to the podcast I gave my son your devotional and brother in law they love it. I live in pa now born and raised nj . Keep sharing the word of God I have grown alot listening to you all God Bless

  • Sherry Stanley
    December 25, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    So happy for you and the Robertson family. I dont know why things work out the way they do but God has a plan and you and your family are a shining example of his love and grace. God Bless and so happy for you thank you for sharing your story!

  • Denise Howe
    December 26, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    So did your mother not know who your father was, or didn’t want to tell you? After all your name is Phyllis…

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