We waited patiently for what seemed like an eternity—until we heard the words echo down the hallway, triggering us like two horses at the Derby.
“Okay guys, we’re ready!”
I ran as fast as my little 6-year-old legs would take me. I felt like I was flying as I raced down the hallway and into the room where my parents anxiously waited. Mom with her hands over her mouth in a state of anticipated joy, and Dad stationed at the back wall, facing us, hidden behind his gigantic VHS camcorder. It was securely mounted on his shoulder like a military grade bazooka, ready to capture every nuance of Christmas morning joy from our tiny little faces.
My younger sister was right behind me as we made the corner into the room and my heart jumped as I saw what was waiting for us. All the furniture had been moved to the side walls and placed right in the middle of the room, like a storefront window, was a pink Barbie power-wheels car and a 20-inch RCA CRT TV.
My sister let out a squeal that I’m sure to this day is still echoing around the hills of Southern Kentucky as she ran over to her new found 12-volts of kid highway freedom.
I, on the other hand, kept jumping up and down and ran over to push all the buttons and test out my new cubed box signifying my coming-of-age. I now had my own television. In my mind, I was now ready to apply for college and enter the workforce. I was “all grown up,” at least, in my own way of thinking.
This thing was a massive rectangular box that weighed at least two of me. It was securely held in place by a red and white stand that conveniently matched none other than my favorite game, Mario Brothers.
I kept walking around it and taking in how big it wasw hen I heard Dad fumbling with the camera letting out a heavy sigh.
“Guys, I’m sorry but this thing didn’t record any of that…”
I could tell how disappointed he was. He and Mom had given so much effort to capture the excitement they knew would come at the sight of these gifts. In the way, I suppose only a parent knows, our excitement was a small gift to themselves and the memory of it had just been lost to a defunct VHS tape.
He fiddled with it in silence for a few moments when he blurted out, “Aha ha, I got it! Guys, I need you to do that over again for me. Just go back down the hallway and run in here like you did at the beginning, okay?”
My sister and I looked at each other slightly confused, but I could tell how important this was to Dad, so we made our way back down the hallway and waited again for the words to send us running.
“I’m ready whenever you are.”
We entered the room jumping and shouting like crazy people. I ran over to the TV saying, “Wow!” over and over again. My sister just kind of bobbled around the car making screeching noises that I assumed were “excitement,” but out of context could have been taken as a state horror.
We each did this for a few minutes until we heard Dad say, “Okay, that’s got it.”
Looking back over that tape, it’s easy to see we were over-the-top with our excitement—like a few tiny bad stage actors trying to make their debut mark.
I still laugh when I think of that story. The beautiful mess it was.
Older now, I don’t remember the gifts as much as I do the small nuances of happiness in my parent’s faces. Their anticipation of capturing our joy and how that brought them joy in return. I remember Dad’s face when he thought he may have lost that memory, and the laughter we all shared when we finished trying to recreate it only to make a new memory instead.
It makes me think about how much our Father loves us.
It seems so many things compete for this time of year to create the memories we look back on. So much effort is put into finding the perfect gift, having the perfect dinner, and trying to not go insane at family gatherings.
But, I’m sure you are expecting me to take this post to its obvious point, “Let’s remember the real reason for the season.”
Well, that’s not this post and that’s not the point I want you to remember. While it is true, what I want you to remember is the heart of our Father.
I’ve always believed if all God wanted to accomplish was to get us into heaven, then Jesus would have shown up on a Friday, raised up on Sunday, and that would have been it. If his death for our sins was the only goal, why was he born in the first place? Why did he choose to live out a life with us, instead of just fixing the sin problem?
I think it is all because of love.
I like to think of it like this. He spent 30 years showing us how to live, three years teaching us how to do it, and three days fixing it so we could.
Jesus was born into this world giving us the gift of life through his grace and love, and when he looks down on us living out life in that gift, it brings joy to his face.
Sure, sometimes we fail at loving others. We still have a human nature that fights against God’s nature taking residence and root in us. But, just like when I had to recreate my excitement that Christmas morning, we find new memories as long as our foundation is in Christ. Grace and love, offered through Christ, is our gift to remember this time of year.
Each year we celebrate Christmas, attend candlelight services to remember it, and share gifts with one another in honor of it. But in all this doing, it can feel like we are just recreating required excitement over and over. After enough time, it can feel like we have lost the “Meaning of the Season,” and don’t know how to get it back.
Logically, we know what we are celebrating, but inside the excitement doesn’t feel as genuine as the first time we found it. That’s where I think we can lose it, in trying to recreate excitement rather than living in the gift of our Father.
God gave us grace through his Son that we remember every year at this time. It is a gift that can always be new as long as it lives in the spirit of a person. As long as we keep loving one another, being gracious with one another, and forgiving one another when we fail, that gift keeps on living as fresh and new as the day it was given to us.
As we remember this year to live in love, grace, and forgiveness, we find new memories and new joy created out of the recreation of our celebration of Christ’s birth. Our celebration creates new life filled with love.
That is our gift given to us over and over by a Father who loves us deeply. The gift of his love that makes all things new every time it is given. Every time it is remembered and every time it is put into practice.
So may you remember and recreate that love this Christmas season. May you find new memories recreated out of the old and find love that fills you so much that you can’t help but give it away. May you find joy in knowing the joy our Father finds in you. And may you be the gift of love to others that is continually given to you.
Merry Christmas, my friends.