Friday, December 15, 2017

Wrong Assumption

Some communities go all out decorating for the holidays.

And some don't.

I thought that New West would. (They go kinda crazy with fresh flower hanging baskets in the spring; which led me to believe that, of course, there would be light displays for Christmas.)

Turns out, I guessed wrong.

This was it:

One Christmas tree all lit up in front of an Irish pub.

However, all was not lost.

It was a brisk, fresh, lovely evening for a walk along the riverfront.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Friends who text at 7:30 pm saying, "I've had a nap. Wanna do something?"

2. All the important things got checked off my list at work today. < This rarely happens anymore.

3. You know how you hear a story, a message, a sermon, a devotional, or something, and it just sticks with you? That happened to me at the start of this Christmas season.

Focus always has it's Christmas Banquet on the last Thursday of November. So for me, that's the start of Christmas parties. It's also the last of them, because it's the only one I go to. Anyway, the speaker that evening started his talk by sharing a family tradition that they've had for years and years.

In the fall, they'd pick a family in their neighbourhood who was struggling financially, or having some issues, or dealing with hard things and decide to bless them at Christmas. For the next few months, they'd pick up/save/buy things for the family keeping it all in brown paper bags, in a corner of their garage. The closer to Christmas, the more excited the family got, adding last minute food items, and special gifts.

On Christmas Eve, the whole family would carry plainly wrapped parcels and bags, very quietly, and leave it all by their front door, then everyone would sneak back to the car, leaving one kid behind to ring the doorbell and run back to the vehicle. Everyone would be giddy, overjoyed, happy and talkative ...

As he was reminiscing, I remembered my dad. He loved doing this too. Most times he'd do something on his own, and we may or may not have heard about it afterwards, but one Christmas, when we were all in our teens, he thought we should bless our young pastor and his family with a load of beef. We'd just butchered a cow (we had a farm with cattle. They were grass and grain fed. Lived happy, full lives, roaming around on our 25 acres, the neighbour's 40 acres, and the playing field at Tynehead Park) and had hundreds of pounds of meat in plainly wrapped brown paper in our deep freeze.

He was the giddy one. We packed up steaks, and roasts and hamburger meat and stewing beef in some boxes, and probably some baking, and knowing my dad, he woulda tucked in a few one hundred dollar bills as well, and snuck up to their door, rang the door bell then took off, screeching our tires as we zipped away from their house. His joy of giving was infectious. He was so happy to leave those boxes of frozen meat on their door step. We must've talked about it for months, wondering if they ever figured out it was us.

Listening to the speaker share his memories with so much happiness in his voice, and remembering how thrilled my dad was to give gifts, it was easy for me to imagine just how excited God must've been, that first Christmas, to surprise us with a precious gift in a plain wrapping. He had been planning on sending His son to save us for a long time. Since the beginning of time, actually. And when He did it, He was giddy with joy. His son was delivered in Bethlehem, and to let everyone know He let the Angels 'ring the doorbell' (so to speak) with their announcement of "GUESS WHAT? A SAVIOUR HAS BEEN BORN!"  before they disappeared around the corner, screeching their tires.


I know that there's a strong argument against all the gifts we buy each other at Christmas. Good reasons to scale back or even eliminate the whole commercial aspect of the holiday. But I think that would be sad.

It's not a bad thing, to express love and experience happiness when you present someone with a gift. It doesn't have to be bought. Or even wrapped cheerfully. But the act of giving with joy and receiving with appreciation is Holy.

And I think God smiles like crazy when He sees us following His lead on this.


So the third thing I'm thankful for is stories. Especially ones that stick with you a long time.

Merry Christmas, friends.

1 comment:

Kim N. said...

I love the story about your Dad! My dad also loved to give, and to help out friends in need. That is an excellent heritage.