Written as part of an Advent Daily Devotional for the UCC in Wallace, ID
A couple of weeks ago when we were at the church, my phone rang. Ben was recording Indy on her flute, so I stepped out of the sanctuary and into the social hall. I immediately noticed that the call was from our daughter-in-law’s father, and with a mild sense of panic (there’s no good reason for Gene to be calling me), I answered it, only to be greeted by 8-year old Garth. Thrilled, I asked him why he wasn’t in school, and he told me that he was in school (remote, being accompanied by “Professor Pappy”). One of his assignments for the day was to call somebody and talk about the book he was reading, the characters and story line. Having explained that, he proceeded to (re)open to me the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Before we hung up, we managed to also talk about cinnamon rolls, the Kindle we gave him last year and Shadow, his cat.
Ben and I have barely talked about what we will give as Christmas gifts this year, but I’m pretty confident that no matter what unfolds between now and then, I’ve already received the best gift of the season. – and it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet! Sure, the stuff matters, the packages we wrap up and put under the tree, watching the look on their faces as they discover what’s hidden inside the paper and ribbon; but is there anything that registers more joy or meaning than the relationship beneath it all? Anything that lasts longer?
What will you give this Christmas? In a year when everything will be different thanks (no thanks) to COVID, why not seize the moment and imagine new ways to give yourself to those you love? Don’t even try to replicate God’s gift of self on the first Christmas, in the delivery of a miraculous birth, but what can you offer that would be uniquely you and laced with love? Some baking, sewing, constructing? A photo, song, piece of jewelry? A letter, Zoom call, video of you reading a Christmas story? Maybe a phone call to talk about the book you’re reading. It really can change the world for the one on the receiving end.