“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
I look over at the clock and the red glow of the digital numbers say it’s 4 am. I take a deep breath and try to settle my nerves a little bit. I’m like a dog chasing its tail… all wound up with nowhere to go. I’m not alone feeling this way. Millions of other kids are tossing and turning squeezing their eyes shut trying to will the night away thinking of the shiny packages that Santa may or may not leave behind. Momma says that I have stay in bed until 7:00 because I don’t want to catch Santa in the act of dropping off the presents, and he needs all the time he can get. Little did I know that it was just a ploy to let my parents sleep in a little longer on Christmas morning. My sister, Breckon, and I had a terrible habit of waking up at the crack of dawn to see what amazingness had been left under our tree.
This Christmas morning was no different. While my 7-year-old eyes were counting the minutes that stood between infinite happiness and me, I must’ve fallen asleep because the next thing I knew Breckon was standing in my doorway yelling for me to wake up.
We both run down the stairs together. It seems like we move so fast that our feet don’t even touch the floor. I turn the corner and I literally gasp. He came! Santa came! Our scream wakes up our parents who come out with 80’s perm style bed heads and squinty eyes. My dad sits in his lazy boy chair with his flannel robe and mom starts sorting out the presents. Breckon, being 10-years old and much more mature than me, organizes her gifts, opening each one carefully and studying what was inside before going on to the next one. Not me. I tear open each gift as fast as I can, sometimes not even getting all the wrapping paper off before I’m on to the next one. I’ve always been a little impatient…still am.
We saved our stockings for last. But, something was different this year. My parents cut eyes at each other and sat across from my sister while handing her the stocking. I could tell there must be something very special inside hers. Why weren’t they looking at me that way? My sister reached her hand in and pulled out a tiny black velvet box. This was a first for my sister. I could see her hands tremble with excitement as she brought the box up to open it. My parents leaned in to make sure they could get the full view of her expression. It all happened in a millisecond. The box creaked open and my sister released the most high-pitched scream running over to my parents tackling them with gratitude. What was it?? Breckon turns around to show me the most beautiful tiny gold studded earrings for PIRECED ears. My sister had begged for months to get her ears pierced, and my parents refused until now. Her preteen Christmas wish had been granted.
One would think that I would celebrate my sister. Scream with her, and jump up and down. But, no. Not even close. I dumped out my stocking to make sure I didn’t overlook my little black box. When it wasn’t there, I burst into tears. I kicked a path through ripped wrapping paper and half opened boxes, and made my way upstairs making sure I hit every stair with my hardest stomp. I stopped at the top of the stairs and plopped down. I was jealous on Christmas morning. JEALOUS! And, I had given it the power to ruin the day. It didn’t ruin anyone else’s day; they were still all downstairs celebrating. But, not me. Sad thing is, I can’t tell you any of the wonderful thoughtful gifts I got that morning. All I can remember is what I didn’t get, and I allowed it to steal my joy. Shame on me.
I’ve thought about that Christmas morning many times over the years. About how I made it all about me and how I missed out on the biggest blessing of all….celebrating in the happiness of my sister.
When the holidays come around, some of us feel the way that I did on that Christmas morning so many years ago. We may feel left out, left behind, or greatly crave something else that we don’t have. We look at the lives of others and we burn with jealously when we compare their story to ours. So we alienate ourselves from the party. We cross our arms and stomp upstairs to be away from the joy thinking we have the right since, for whatever reason, life hasn’t been fair. However, the celebration doesn’t stop….it just stops for us.
Christmas isn’t all about me. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. It’s about all mankind. It’s about recognizing the most awesome gift that could ever be given: a savior, a hero, a baby king born so we can have eternal kinship with our Heavenly Father. It’s the beginning of the most amazing love story the human race has ever been witness to…and we all are a part of it. When we understand the true forgiveness and acceptance that comes from our Jesus, our greatest Christmas gift, we won’t be able to keep from celebrating no matter what our circumstances are. Joy will pour out of us like a rushing river washing away the pain and bitterness that we carry inside.
Christmas is what we make of it, not what we wish it to be. We want love; we must give love. We want kindness; we must be kind. We want community; we’ve got to come down the stairs and join the party. We are already invited.
I pray that this Holiday season, that you grab hold of the true gift that is Christmas.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13