Yesterday I braved a southern blizzard to do a little Christmas shopping. In and out of stores, snow spitting in my face, the temperature dropping, I filled my bags with gifts. In the company of friends and people I love, the cold didn’t seem to matter so much. We laughed and laughed at the hilarity of what we were attempting to do while slipping and sliding on snow-covered sidewalks.
I woke up this morning thinking about wrapping and mailing, needing to get to these gifts out of their bags, into some pretty paper, and off to my loved ones. Fumbling around with my coffee maker, I brewed a cup and assured myself I would get to the presents just as soon as I was done with my prayers & meditation. I pulled out a tiny scripture book I read from, and the passage said, “a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven”. In the midst of the season of gift giving and receiving, that passage struck me. The more I pondered it, the more the words rested on my heart, their meaning sinking in.
Last year my Dad, his wife, and the twins came to TN to spend Christmas with me. We had a huge tree strung with twinkling lights and glass blown ornaments. Presents were over flowing. We ice skated and prayed desperately for snow, or as my father put it, “a Christmas miracle” . “The stockings were hung by the chimney with care……” and sure enough, the next morning, St. Nick had been there. The twins squealed with delight as they opened roller skates and ds games and a host of things I’ve never even heard of that kids these days are into. Their joy was palpable. To be honest, I can’t really remember what any of us got or gave, but what we received was miraculous. What we received was the fullness of love. We were together. It wasn’t the gifts, it was the magic in those little eyes, sparkling with wonder and delight. It wasn’t the packages I unwrapped from Bonnie and Dad, it was the love, that packed two kids up in the car and drove 10 hours to spend Christmas at my house. So, the passage of scripture was true, we received nothing, except what was given us from heaven, L O V E. Of course, we got lots of gifts, but what we received wasn’t something we could use up or grow tired of or put on a shelf. What we received was, as my friend says, “God with skin on”. Love poured herself out over our little family that Christmas.
What you give and what you get, if it can be bought, doesn’t matter…. ( Well, now, for those of you who know me… you know I can truly receive some things that can be bought…. especially if they sparkle. ) But honestly, what we will receive, what we will really receive, will be what goes with us when our time on this earth is through. And as I once heard, “you never see a hearse pulling a u-haul”.
It’s easy, especially during the holidays to think about what we don’t have. We wish we were in love, or had children, or were married to our child’s mother, or father. We wish we weren’t alone. We wish we had more money. We wish our family was more connected. We wish for loved ones that we lost. We shine a spot light on the unfulfilled areas of our hearts and lives, giving ourselves permission to sink into heartache and sadly, self-pity. Don’t do that this year. Commit to yourself and the planet that you will rise above what isn’t and rest in what is. Of course last Christmas I wanted to have children of my own around my tree and a husband to hang out with my Dad. Of course I wanted it to be different from it was, but I would have missed how beautiful it was, as it was, if I’d stayed lost in the “want”.
The only gift we can truly receive is from heaven and heaven is always giving. Love is everywhere. If you don’t have a child and you want one, find one that needs you this year and pour yourself out. If you aren’t married and you want to be, take yourself to a nursing home and hold the hand of a stranger who wishes she was married too. If you want your family around the supper table, and it won’t happen this year, take yourself to the table of friends, to a soup kitchen, and experience the fullness of that meal.
You already have what you need. Give it away and you will receive it a hundred fold. No matter what, this can be the best Christmas of your life…… Love is waiting, don’t miss it because it doesn’t look the way you wanted it to!
-sending you love wherever you are in the world