It came up again last week at bedtime.
|A gift from the past:
hand print snow man ornament.
“Mom, what do you want for Christmas?”
I could not think of one reasonable thing to say.
A few years ago Zach asked me this same question, and I was ready with a completely practical idea.
“You know what I really want? A pair of really warm pajamas.”
He looked at me in disbelief, and exhaled an incredulous, “Phfffffff!” My request didn’t even warrant a real word.
I got my warm jammies that year, but not from Zach. I got them from my mom who had a good chuckle when I told her the story.
It’s not that can’t think of anything. I’ve had my eye on several pairs of high quality, semi-cute, supportive shoes made for middle aged women with fragile feet who aren’t willing to concede the need for ghastly orthotics. But that’s not much fun to write on the Christmas list.
“Candles?” he suggested.
“That sounds good.” I do like candles, they help cover all the wet boot odors, and last night’s supper smell that the furnace recirculates day after day.
Then he made an astute observation for a 13 year-old: “You know, for the first twelve years of your life you kind of know what you want for Christmas. But then you learn some things. And you don’t know what you want.”
And that’s the truth.
He has learned “some things.”
He’s learned that dollar store toys fall apart after 3.5 minutes of play time.
He’s learned that any affordable remote control vehicle will withstand approximately one crash before it has to be super glued or tossed.
He’s learned that this year’s impractical Christmas gift often ends up on June’s garage sale when he needs cash for fishing bait.
I told him it’s the same when you’re older. I had a robust Christmas list when I was young.
One Christmas I asked for stuffed animals. For years I displayed my vast collection in the corner of my room, arranged by height and in rainbow order.
In my teens I asked for designer jeans that basically guaranteed coolness and self-worth. For several years in a row I got them. Guess. Z.Cavarricci. Pepe. Union Bay. (Brass Buckle, anyone?)
I used to want a horse shoe driveway in front of our house so guests could just drive right up and out without a cumbersome three point turn.
Then I learned some things.
Stuffed animals take up a lot of room, and I have no idea what became of them.
Personal value doesn’t come from jeans, and after college I made a denim quilt.
Paved driveways are overrated, and it turns out guests don’t really care where your driveway is, or that you have a thick crop of crab grass where the horse shoe drive might have been. They just want to know you enjoy having them.
The things I want for Christmas can’t be paid for. Sometimes they have to be worked for. Fresh creativity. Thriving relationships. Unshakable confidence.
After he went to bed I decided I should have said, “All I want for Christmas is for you three boys to love Jesus, love each other, and actually want to come visit dad and me someday.”
But if I had thought of that request before he fell asleep, I’m pretty sure it would have been met with the same response the jammies got.
And that actually feels like an appropriate response some days, because that kind of gift doesn’t come with a receipt and tidy wrapping.
Some days it feels like work. I run out of creativity. I second guess every single thing. And I think, “It’ll never work out that way! I haven’t done enough to guarantee I’ll get three grown sons who love Jesus and each other…and still want to visit Kurt and me.”
But God is gracious. And the nature of a gift is that it can’t be earned.
With prayer and thanksgiving I will make this request known to God, and I’ll have peace in remembering it can only come from Him.
It will likely look different than I expect, but it will undoubtedly be exactly what I need in order to know Christ better.
And knowing Christ better is what I really want…not just for Christmas but every day.