I got everything I wanted for Christmas and a few things that weren’t on my list. Life is like that. We receive it all and realize that the things we didn’t anticipate can also be a gift. Unfortunately it takes some years under the belt and some tumbles and detours along the path to learn this. When we’re young, we think everything is divided into good and bad and can’t imagine that the good stuff might not actually be so good, and the bad stuff can really be blessings we don’t recognize. I’m learning this, but I also know I have a long way to go.
So here is what I received this Christmas:
1) Three children tucked safely at home (for a while) and happy to be here. I don’t take this for granted.
2) Traditions continued, which makes us feel as though the world and life is a little bit predictable. That’s an illusion, but on some level, Christmas is about suspending reality and relishing the thought that we have been inserted into one of those homey Christmas songs. My favorite is Amy Grant’s song “Christmas Can’t Be Very Far Away.” You can bet any song that begins with a line like “Little bits of heaven floating gently by the window…” is going to drown you in sap. And it does. But I love it. I also love our family traditions: at least three batches of chex mix, “the best sugar cookies ever”, and puppy chow (we do love our Christmas calories); a mandatory watching of Elf, A Christmas Story, and Christmas Vacation; an extended family Christmas party that is LOUD and LONG (love it!); lazy days between Christmas and New Year’s that include a visit from my in-laws (You know what? I love this too and always have).
3) A crazy, ridiculous schedule the two weeks before Christmas that should have driven me insane. Instead, God gave me perspective through the eyes of a friend whose husband had to have emergency brain surgery (he came through and is recovering…praise!), a Christmas party at the Realation DHS Group Home, and Kyle’s trip to Colombia to visit orphanages in three of its cities.
As I ran from place to place and skyped with Kyle every evening, I began to realize why we wait in anticipation for the Savior during Advent. Life down here “under the sun” is broken, but Christ came to put it all back together. Every Christmas, we light Advent candles and read Scripture about his coming, but do we really know why we’re supposed to be impatient about this? I caught a glimpse this Christmas and it made some sense. In the middle of the hectic pace, that was most definitely a gift.
3) And, I received some tangible gifts. Here are a couple: One hummel, which I receive every year. This year, Kyle chose one that fits perfectly with the past twelve months.
Our eyes have been opened to how many fatherless (and motherless) children there are around the world. I love this image and hesitate to place it in the display with all the others. For now, I’m keeping it where I can see it every day.
I did not grow up with aquariums and have never wanted one (do we need one more creature to feed or clean?), but I’m liking it. There is a reason why places like doctor’s offices have fish tanks. Calm. Soothing. Distracting. Nice. Kyle has taken this on as his – so he shall clean, maintain, troubleshoot, flush dead fish down the toilet. What a guy. He’s a gift I am thankful for every day of my life.
Some of what I received this year was expected. Some things came from nowhere. But I extend my hands and receive it all, knowing that it has passed through hands big enough to hold the world.