A Gracious Getter
Christmas tradition in our family allowed us to open one gift on Christmas Eve. It was so hard to choose the perfect gift to open first. We wanted to choose something fun, but not too fun—bedtime was right around the corner. Picking the largest present was a temptation, but we didn’t want to spoil Christmas morning by having already opened the biggest and best. A small present would have been the ideal choice, but the inaugural Christmas Eve present shouldn’t be wasted on a mere bauble.
Photo: Helmut Gevert
My younger sister Alana and I had spent much of the evening eyeing the brightly-packaged boxes under the tree, shaking and squeezing and sniffing each one until we had narrowed our selections. After my parents read the Christmas story, we made our final decision and prepared to open the presents.
I don’t remember what I opened, but I’ll never forget what Alana chose.
The strong-willed one, she had begged to open the two she couldn’t choose between. One was small and compact, rattled slightly and was heavy for it’s size. The other was larger and a bit softer, light and tempting in its nebulousness. Mom stood her ground, “One apiece.”
The Unhappy Getter
Alana opted for the larger gift. She tore off the wrapping and discovered… long underwear. Cozy and cream-white and folded neatly in their plastic packaging, the undergarments prompted an unequalled response. Her five-year-old frame shook with anger and she flung the present onto the carpet. “NO!” Tears streamed as she kicked and yelled. When the tantrum was over, so was Christmas Eve. We went to bed, unsure if Santa would make an appearance after Alana’s rampage.
The next morning when Alana opened the second gift—the one she had opted over, she unwrapped the Bambi video she had requested for months. It had been there the whole time; she had simply chosen to open the wrong gift.
Like my sister, I am not always a gracious gift-getter. I pray for one present, receive another and complain so loudly that I cannot appreciate the more suitable gift God has presented. It’s hard to accept the gifts that are good for me in my efforts to attain those things that are simply luxuries. Instead, I focus so longingly on dreams that it is impossible to see the beauty in my reality.
My parents weren’t being intentionally cruel with their gift. Instead, the long underwear were purchased to keep my sister warm while we sledded and played in the snow in our backyard.
God, the ultimate parent, revels in gifting us with wonderful blessings. He sees past the warm excitement of Christmas day and gives us gifts to see us through the cold tomorrows. The New Living Bible says, “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?” (Matthew 7:11)
Likewise, we are encouraged to be gracious in all things. While we cannot see how the presents of today will help us face the hurdles in our future, we can be assured that God has our best interests in mind. Trusting that God knows the distinction between wants and needs, we can hand over our desires and accept the perfect rewards of our heavenly Father.