I struggled to come up with an answer. I must have received a couple hundred gifts in my life. On what basis could I choose just one?
Zac took the easy way out and used Wyatt as his answer. Although he technically wasn’t wrapped in paper and bows, it was two days before Christmas when we learned that our unborn child was a son.
Zac and I both got a little upset Sunday morning when our ungrateful spouse couldn’t remember any of the cool stuff we had picked out for him/her.
As we walked out the door, we were swapping statements like “Well, I was expecting you to say...” and “I guess that was a big waste of money.”
Our conversation was all in good fun, of course, but it stuck with me as I let Christmas sink into the deepest corners of my soul this year.
My 20’s have been a personal rollercoaster, and Christmas has become the natural season for me to reflect on where the ride is taking me.
I am not content to end the year as the same person I was when it began.
At the heart of the Christmas story is the declaration that old things have passed away and there is an opportunity to be made new.
One way that I tried to challenge myself this year was by exploring the meaning of a single word, love.
The events of the past 12 months have shown me that my definition of love is too narrow and ultimately rooted in selfishness.
For example, one of the gifts that Zac expected me to name in our Sunday School class was the locket he gave me on our first Christmas together.
The tarnished little heart never leaves my jewelry box these days because I have broken every cheap chain we have bought for it.
One year, Zac invested in a more expensive necklace in hopes that it would be more durable.
I found out about what he had done and asked him to take it back before I had even unwrapped it.
“Don’t buy a $100 chain for a $20 locket,” I explained.
I disagreed with some of his other purchases as well. He ended up returning everything.
At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing by trying to save money. However, I didn’t count the cost of hurting Zac’s feelings.
I have a tendency to want things the way I want them. Love doesn’t work that way.
What I have learned most about love this year is that it has the power to change anyone who is willing to take a chance on it.
Love can’t be measured with a price tag or the number and size of gifts found under a tree on Christmas morning.
Love is how much we offer of ourselves to another human being.
It is for friends as well as enemies, which are practically impossible to have once the true meaning of love is understood.
Someone told me this week that we only love God as much as the person we like the least.
One of my favorite Christmas carols puts it this way: “Truly he taught us to love one another. His law is love, and his gospel is peace.”
Ebenezer Scrooge wasn’t known as a very loving person at the beginning of Dickens’ tale, but by the end it was being said of him that “he knew how to keep Christmas well.”
I think that means he had learned how to love, and I hope the same is true of me next December.