Christmas Gifts

We are in a winter wonderland this year for Christmas! Apparently, the snow had all melted until a few days before we got here, and then three separate storms hit to blanket the entire region in white. When it snowed Christmas Eve and most of the day on Christmas, it  confirmed my suspicion that all the snow was a gift given just for us! It’s been incredible to watch the kids enjoy the snow and experience the wonder of a real winter. And while I haven’t exactly been out in it as much as they have, I still feel like I’m living in a Hallmark movie (that’s a good thing). I’ve seen at least 2,019,832 Hallmark movies this season (there are two separate channels in case you didn’t know), so to now feel like I’m living in one makes this a pretty special Christmas.

Besides the breathtaking beauty outside, another gift is that we got to go to church twice on Christmas Eve! As if that’s not awesome enough, at one of the services we sang Christmas carols the whole time! Anyone who knows me knows this is ALL I want to be doing on Christmas Eve. The church in the small town where my mother-in-law lives is as much out of a movie as the white Christmas. It shares the same name as our church in Plano, TX, but that’s where the similarities end. Whereas our church at home has thousands of members, big screens at the front and surround sound, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian church in Stirling, Ontario only has room for around 50 people. It doesn’t need any screens or surround sound to convey the message of Jesus to its congregants, just a passionate pastor who often gets inspired to get out his guitar and sing a song in the middle of his sermon.

Usually, all this magic would be enough to catapult me into a spiritual free fall, but for some reason, this year, I just wasn’t feeling overly connected to God. Perhaps I was distracted from seeing the beauty of the moment at church, because I was sitting next to my tween daughter who was acting super weird and moody. She barely even sang the hymns, even though she loves to sing, and it sure seemed like she was glaring at me most of the service. I found out later it was because I was apparently singing too loud and without tall enough vowels. She said she was sure God could hear me up in heaven though, so I guess that’s good.

Finally last night, as I sat bundled up in a recliner by the fire, I felt that spiritual connection I’d been seeking. Once again, I was sitting close to the aforementioned tween, but this time, I was able to not bother her – I guess my typing isn’t as loud as my singing. She was on the couch typing a story on her computer as I wrote this blog post. I prayed for God to guide me and show me what to write about, and I suddenly recalled something that happened on Christmas night. As we were all getting ready for bed, my daughter said something along the lines of “How cool is it that Jesus came down to earth on this day thousands of years ago to save us all from our sins?”

She had a wonder in her voice I could tell was genuine. She couldn’t seem to find the words to express what was in her heart. A part of me recognized that the enthusiasm emanating from her was the kind that only comes from the Holy Spirit, but a bigger part of me was just too darned tired to really appreciate the moment. I almost missed the greatest Christmas gift God had in store for me this year, because I was too busy thinking about myself! I forgot for a second that sometimes, it just isn’t about you. Sometimes, your role is to be in the passenger seat. Maybe even in the backseat. (Maybe even in the far backseat where your loud singing won’t be so annoying.) Sometimes, I get to be the one who sees God through the fog of this crazy, messed up world. This Christmas, it was my daughter’s turn to see a brilliant shimmer of divine light.  And witnessing her joyful realization of the true meaning of Christmas on a deep, spiritual level was the greatest gift I could have ever imagined.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8



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