My family of origin would start the questioning sometime in late October. A grandparent would ask. Sometimes a parent. Maybe my uncle. “What do you want for Christmas?” they’d say. I’d oblige. I’d give them a list.
Oddly, the list frequently didn’t seem to matter. One great-aunt asked every year at Thanksgiving. “Now Carl,” Aunt Rachel would say, “I really want to know what you’d like for Christmas.” And I would respond with the well-rehearsed presentation of my consumerist longings. Christmas would roll around. Aunt Rachel gave me socks. Every year. Usually yellow or orange, for some reason; and I would never wear them (but for which I was required to write a thank you note).
Perhaps you have a similar story. We all have things we desire or want and Christmas seems to have become a time of expressing that to those who feel, by reason of relationship, that they are obligated to give us something. The list changes, though. As we grow and change and mature, the list morphs from childish delight in toys and games to adolescent desires for clothing and tech stuff to adult needs.
At some point, the hopes and longings and desires are intangible, things you cannot wrap and open, things you cannot hold or touch, things for which you cannot really write a thank you note. You want time with people you love, time that can be cherished and savored. Some peace and quiet maybe. A bit of rest.
And then, the list moves deeper. It becomes a list of things that no one other than God can really give us. Things of deep meaning and value. Gifts like love, hope, joy, peace.
We will be talking about those four gifts this Advent season in our worship together. Our sermon series is entitled “All I Want for Christmas” and each Sunday and Christmas Eve we’ll look at the true gifts that Christ brings with his coming into our world. This week, as we also share in the Hanging of the Greens, we’ll talk about love (you may want to look at 1 John 4:7-10 and John 3:14-21 before Sunday). I hope you’ll be there with an open heart to receive the gifts that God has for all of us.
Grace and peace to you.