Remember that Christmas the kids just hated you? No? Well perhaps that’s because you never made the ultimate, unforgivable mistake–messin’ with the traditions.
It was the Christmas when my kids were 10 and 12. Tired of their stacking, enumerating, and comparing their presents under the tree, I decided to use a different “system.” So I labeled all the packages by number instead of name. Keeping a single, carefully hidden list of who got which gift, I would be in total control of the present-opening mayhem on Christmas Eve.
I can just see many of you starting to grin as you recognize the massive fault in my ingenious plan. Yep. I lost the list.
My masterpiece of management, my “coup d’etat of control,” ended in disaster. I muddled through by memory (and got it mostly right), but I completely lost any sense of peace as the kids looked at me in frustration, and my husband teased me unmercifully.
Some traditions are good and sensible. Gifts should come with name tags. It should say right on the package To:___, and From:___. How else do we know which gift is for us? And how do we know whom to thank for it?
In this season, we should look at our traditions, keeping the very best, time-tested ones. These are the ones that name our gifts, and point us to the Giver. What I didn’t see in my plan to reduce sibling comparison and childish competition, was the importance of relishing each brightly wrapped box. Or the anticipation that came from knowing who gave it.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not against laser light projectors, or strands of LED lights on an artificial tree. But the lighting of a single candle kindles the metaphor used by our Lord: “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16)
I enjoy a smooth rendition of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” but the simple joy of “Silent Night, Holy Night” speaks to my very soul, reminding me of “the shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2:8)
And though I love the nostalgia of a porcelain doll in a velvet coat and fur muff, the Babe in the manger reminds me of how tiny, how humble was the Hope that entered our world so long ago. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
For we have been given the Gift of all gifts, wrapped up in swaddling clothes under the light of the very stars He spoke into being. The incredible present of a tiny Redeemer born for each and every one of us. And our gift tag is the very word of God, telling each of us plainly that this Present is To: my darling daughter, From: your Abba, with love.
Yes, some traditions are meant to be kept–Giver and receiver clearly marked. Thank you, Jesus.