In several recent posts, I’ve made it very clear that I love Christmas shopping. I look forward to gathering around the tree and passing out gifts. While I enjoying opening them, I get a bigger thrill out of watching other people open their gifts. But, upon reflection, I realize that I can’t remember many of the gifts I’ve given or received over the years….
Yes, certain items stand out. There was that one Christmas that Eric got me the complete Cosby Show series and I teared up and was speechless just like when he proposed to me. There was the time I gave my friend seasons one and two of The Andy Griffith Show and she screamed. However, most gift memories pass away. It’s crazy to think about that because we put so much energy and money into buying gifts each year.
One Christmas that stands out to me is Christmas 2001. Every Christmas before, and many Christmases since, I watched my mom stress over Christmas. She worried about what to get people and if they’d like what she bought them. Maybe she was afraid I would feel less loved if I didn’t have a good Christmas (all my Christmases were good – though I never got so much that it left my head spinning, which I’m very grateful for today in that I appreciate things and am not spoiled), but she always seemed worried that I’d be disappointed on Christmas morning.
Christmas 2001 was different. In January of that year, my maternal grandmother was found sitting in a chair in her home. We found out she’d been sitting there for days before she was discovered (a neighbor noticed that her truck had not left the yard in a few days and he called my mother). They had to break the back door down to get in to her and it was later discovered that she had a brain tumor. That year was a roller coaster of emotion and Mom struggled as she watched her mom go downhill. On December 4th, she passed away and mom felt simultaneously relieved and heartbroken.
Because of her mother’s condition, Mom took a leave of absence from her job and did not return to work until January 2002. She didn’t stress about Christmas that year. In light of all that had happened that year, why would she waste time stressing about something as trivial as getting the right Christmas gifts? Though the circumstances surrounding Christmas that year were grim, we seemed more concerned with caring for each other than we did with buying for each other. There were gifts that year just like there are every year – and I don’t remember a single one. What I do remember is seeing my mom at peace – love won, commercialism lost. We had each other and that’s what mattered. We didn’t have the emotional energy to worry about shopping.
As you gather with family and friends over the next few days for Christmas and the holidays, keep in mind how important those people are to your life. They may drive you crazy (what good would family be if they didn’t?!? ~smile~); but, in the end, being with them is infinitely more important than the ties and belts wrapped under the tree. Enjoy exchanging gifts, but focus on all the personal activity going on around you, soak it in, and replay it often. Love on your family and friends and cherish them. You won’t remember most of the gifts you received in a lifetime, but you will remember how you felt at Christmastime.
Please take time this season to publicly acknowledge and thank Jesus for coming to Earth, teaching us how to live and love, sacrificing His life for the propitiation of our sins, and for His continued faithfulness to us. Merry Christmas to you all!
Do you remember which gifts you’ve received throughout the years – or the time you’ve spent with people? Focus on what’s important.