Our Christmas celebration this year spanned 3 full days. We spent Christmas Eve’s eve with Jessica’s parents, completely relaxed while making food, eating food and photographing food. Sunday was our holy day, as we were reminded by Pastor Frank why we celebrate at all. We sang, pondered and sat in awestruck amazement at Emmanuel. We finished the day by watching old movie reels of Dad’s 6th birthday party, trips to the Thousand Islands and Alice and Ed’s wedding. Christmas Day was a completely different creature altogether. The words ‘wonderful’ and ‘exhausting’ come to mind first: a whirlwind of nephews, torn wrapping paper, crazed animals and surprise visits by in laws. I soaked in the glory of having loved one’s around me.
One thought nagged me the entire time, though, and I’m not sure how best to explain it. I am so content with what I have; I don’t feel like I have any great needs or desires. So receiving anything else felt like excess. It’s like being taken out to eat by someone when you’re not really that hungry. You don’t want to be discourteous and turn down the meal; but it makes you feel a bit–gluttonous–afterwards. Now, I don’t begrudge anyone’s gift or their kindness; so many of my gifts were chosen with great care and thoughtfulness. With so much need in the world, though, I felt almost unworthy to receive the great shower of gifts that I did. Maybe next year I’ll set up a missionary fund or a dropcash campaign for those with needs greater than mine.
One last thought: A good friend recently reminded me that we give gifts at Christmas to remember the gift that God gave us. That was an undeserved, luxurious gift, to be sure! So I suppose that there is a place for sacrificial giving as a symbol of love. Let’s just be careful not to let the symbol take precedence over the reality. Indulge in the love, the relationship, the “thought that counts” and let the receipts, wrapping paper and one-size-too-small jeans fade into the gray where they belong.