Do you have classic Christmas stories in your family? One of ours comes from my freshman year of high school. I would never be able to recall what I asked my mom for that year. On Christmas morning, I got so excited because the biggest box under the tree had my name on it. (Blue box in image!) I bragged to my siblings, and saved that giant gift so it would be the last one I opened. Full of expectancy, dreaming about all the things it could be, I tore off the wrapping paper with high hopes. When I cut through the cardboard box and finally flung open those sides, there is was: a piece of red luggage.
I wish I could tell you I had a big grin on my face and thanked my mom profusely. Instead, my face turned sour. I am even more embarrassed to tell you that I slowly rolled that suitcase around the room picking up all the trash. I then turned to my mom and sassily said, “I’ll take all of this to the street.”
We laugh really hard at this story now, but it can teach us all a lesson (or three). The truth was I needed that luggage. I was about to take a ski trip with my youth group for the first time, which was a Christmas gift in and of itself! So lesson one — what we need is far more important than any materialistic want. God is ready to give us what we need so that we have true and authentic fulfillment through relationship with Jesus, not stuff. Lesson two — in a season that produces anxiety and stress because of expectations we place on ourselves or others for perfectly planned Christmas gifts and gatherings, we can pray to be grounded. Just a few weeks ago a young woman in our church reminded me of this. She sent her devotional for the day to me. It said, “Talk with Me about whatever is on your mind, seeking My perspective on the situation. Rather than trying to fix everything that comes to your attention, ask Me to show you what is truly important.” Lesson three — when someone graciously gives us something, our response should be gratitude. Or as I read on meme recently: “In a world full of grinches, be buddy the elf.”
I am praying we all give and receive graciously this season and stay connected to the gifts that really matter, like simply being together, enjoying table fellowship, and seeking ways to serve others.
Grace and peace,