Children do Christmas well. Maybe it’s the toys; maybe it’s Santa; maybe it’s the fantastical images of sugarplums, eight tiny reindeer, and a little drummer boy dancing in their heads. But I think it’s something more. I think it has more to do with receiving. By that, I don’t mean WHAT they get, but rather HOW they get.
I remember going to my Grandmother and Granddaddy’s on Christmas Eve. It was wonderful–lots of food, lots of people, and LOTS of gifts. But my favorite (believe it or not) was leaving–getting in the car with new gifts in tow and setting out from home. It was always late at night, usually freezing cold, and the short 7-mile drive was magical. There was the radio tower that we passed with the red light on top. Surely, I thought, that was Rudolph. There was the prospect of lots of neat gifts. But, more than anything, there was an expectancy that hung in the air. It was all but palpable, as if the cool, fog settling over the Texas prairie somehow shrouded what was to come until Christmas morning. I think as a child I somehow juxtaposed the stories of Baby Jesus and Santa and let my mind wander into visions of a manger awash in starlight surrounded by gifts from the jolly man in the red suit. That’s OK. The point was that I was expecting something. I KNEW something wonderful was going to happen. And I was ready for whatever it was. I was ready to receive whatever I was given.
Children carry no baggage or lists. They have no pre-conceived notions of what Christmas should be. They’re not worried about whether or not they have all the groceries or all the right gifts for everyone. They’re not worried about wrapping the gifts. Children KNOW that you will love what they give you, because that is the way they receive things. Maybe that’s why God burst forth into humanity in the rather unlikely guise of a child. God didn’t come as a prince or a king with set ways of being addressed and set rules of being received. God came as a child, offering nothing but Godself and, as a child, showed us how to receive what is given. In this case, it was a child who needed help in a helpless situation. And in that God showed us how to receive from others. Because, after all, children do Christmas well!
Go forth with the heart of a child and receive the child!
Grace and Peace,