There is so much to be thankful for this year. It’s hard to be spending this Christmas without my parents, but as I watched my children unwrap presents and saw the joy in their faces, I got the sense that Mom and Dad were there in spirit. The legacy of who they are lives on in me and my children and I could imagine their smiles as they saw the joy in my children that they had probably observed on the faces of me and my brother so many times in years gone by.
As difficult as holidays can be even years after loss, I was reminded of the fragility of life again as on the eve of Christmas Eve, a friend of my wife’s and many other women in my church lost her husband after his own battle with cancer. While it’s difficult to face holidays after a loss, to have that loss occur during the holidays has to be incredibly difficult. Every year is marked by the celebration of the holiday and the pangs of loss that never quite go away.
I heard the story of a mother who had to return Christmas presents in order to pay for her gas to get to work. Somewhere in parts of the world where I have never been, little children are opening up shoeboxes prepared for people and delivered by Samaritan’s Purse. These are probably the only gifts that these children have. These realities are good reminders to what I have and am blessed with, not the things that are rights, but privileges for me and my family. It helps me to remember that thankfulness needs to start with the smallest things…..everything else is just a bonus.
As old as I get, I never grow tired of watching the joy on someone’s face when they receive a gift. When someone knows that you thought of them enough to give them something, it’s a feeling that cannot be compared.
Today is the day that we celebrate the greatest gift that has ever been given to us. Sure, Jesus was probably born in the Spring. Away In A Manger is most likely wrong, because what baby doesn’t cry? The wise men weren’t at the manger. And Jesus wasn’t blonde haired and blue eyed, looking like he walked out of an Abercrombie ad. He was much darker than Caucasians think he was and he was probably not much to look at, at least according to Isaiah’s prophecies.
But he came….
And he rose…..
He gave us the gift of life that we could never give ourselves. That’s the one thing that I have tried hard to let my kids understand this year, and I think they can see it….at least the two older ones.
Merry Christmas. I hope that today you feel the love of family and friends. I hope that today you can find thankfulness amidst the gifts that you have been given, regardless of whether or not they were wrapped and under a tree. I pray that you might know the greatest gift that you could ever receive.
Merry Christmas…….and Happy Birthday, Jesus!