The other day I was walking through town to the post office. As I approached the door to the post office I met a mother and her son at the door. The small young child had a gift wrapped present under his arm. I could tell the gift was important to him by the way he firmly held the gift under his right arm then tightly supported it with his left hand.
“I bet that gift is for someone very special,” I commented to the young rosy checked boy. He looked up at me with a big smile and replied, “Yep, for me.” The boy’s mother looked at me with a slightly embarrassed grin on her face, and said, “His father and I gave him that present last Christmas. He refuses to open it but he must love it because it goes everywhere he does.” I just smiled, looked down at the boy, and said, “Don’t worry you are not alone. Adults do this all the time they just don’t realize it, yet.”
By now you have realized this encounter with this young boy did not actually happen, but what tipped you off? Was it the fact that no child in human history that has ever received a gift has ever not energetically torn open the gift to discover what was inside. However, there is a part of this story that is true. The fact that many adults leave the true gifts of Christmas wrapped under the tree each year.
We are guilty of making Christmas about an imaginary fat man in a red suit, who leaves gifts that do not last, and eats all the good cookies. We have even started new traditions based around a devious elf in an attempt to make the Christmas season more fun for our kids. We want our kids and grandkids to have a memorable Christmas so we buy them the latest and greatest _____________ (you fill in the blank), all the while the true meaning of Christmas becomes secondary if thought of at all. Christmas is not about Santa Claus or elf on a shelf. Christmas is about the birth of a child—who though, God—humbled himself becoming like one of us.
The true gifts of Christmas are those, which this child embodies and freely offers to everyone. Those gifts he gives that we tend to leave under the tree are hope, peace, joy, and love. The birth of Jesus is the ultimate Good News, but it is not news and it is certainly not good if you do not receive it. The thing you have to remember, is that these are gifts, so what does a person have to do before they can benefit from the gift they have been given? They have to open it and to open a gift is to receive it. If the gifts stay under wrapped under the tree then you have not received the gifts.
My prayer for you this Christmas season is that you will hear the cries of a baby child through the noise of everything else that fights for your attention. For it is in receiving this child into your life that you will be able to experience the completeness of the gifts He freely offers you. No matter what you do this Christmas season, please, do not leave Jesus’ gifts wrapped under the tree.