How was your Christmas? Did you get all of the presents you were hoping for?
We were lucky enough to spend Christmas at my Dad and step-mum’s, joined my my brother and family for Christmas Day. It’s been a number of years since we have all been together on the day itself, and the children couldn’t wait to see their cousins.
Now that they are a little older, planning to go away for a few days isn’t such a mammoth effort. Gone is the laminated list of what we would need to take. There were a few little lists lying around (I can’t get away from them completely) but nothing of the scale of the past. I was pleasantly surprised that I had brought everything I needed in order to lead worship on Christmas morning.
It was all going to so well. We had prepared the veg the night before. The children didn’t get up too early. The presents in their stockings were treated with happy noises. However, I had made an error. (Where was your list? I hear you shout.) I had got both children an item of clothing, which they unwrapped. As I looked under the tree for their other presents, an unpleasant realisation came over me. I hadn’t brought them. No others. They were on top of the wardrobe in the spare room 80 miles away.
Fortunately, one of my children is of the glass-half-full mentality. “We’ll just open them when we get back on Friday!” I was told. Reproachful looks were given by the other, but once the presents from their grandparents appeared, the trouble lessened. I wouldn’t say that I was forgiven, or that it was forgotten, but equilibrium had returned.
The rest of the day went really well. My service went without too many hitches and no accidental rude words in the PowerPoint – always a bonus, I feel. My step-mum excelled herself with a delicious Christmas lunch, including Yorkshire puddings. I did have an interesting discussion with my daughter. “Some people have to work on Christmas Day, Mummy.” “I am working today,” I replied. “Yes, but there are people who do proper jobs. People like doctors and nurses.” Hmmm. We may have to follow this up later.
Presence, not presents
Even though the presents I had lovingly chosen and wrapped could not be opened, my children still had a wonderful Christmas Day. I admit that had they been younger or expecting something like a bike, they may have been more distressed. Once they realised it just wasn’t happening that day, they got over it. And I think they may have enjoyed themselves more without those presents.
They spent time with their cousins, and we had some fantastic games that they all joined in with. Not that I’m competitive at all, but I was delighted to trounce them all during many rounds of Dobble, even after a couple of glasses of vino. The laughter was contagious. I felt blessed to be spending time with my family.
And that is what is important. People, not presents. Giving others your full attention. Perhaps it is putting that phone away, or forgetting that the dishwasher needs emptying. Most of us have too many “things“. Things can’t make us happy. We can never share too much love.
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