When I was a young teenager all I wanted for Christmas was a stereo with big speakers so that I could listen to my music at levels that, ultimately, would make my parents resent the gift Santa brought me. The anticipation of Christmas at this time was different; I was not waiting for Santa to arrive, as I had outgrown that stage, but I was waiting to receive gifts.
The first gift I grabbed from under the tree was the biggest box I could find with my name on it, and there they were, two of the biggest speakers I have ever seen. I began to tear through box after box in search of the accompanying stereo, not caring who each gift was from or what was written in each card. When I finally got to the last present I learned that there was no stereo, just some really cool speakers and a bunch of sweaters. Being the typical teenage brat, I was angry that I didn’t get what I wanted and began to sulk.
As I began to bring my gifts up to my room I was stopped by my mother. “Did Santa bring you everything you asked for?” Knowing that my parents did not have a lot to give, I tried to put on a happy face and said solemnly, “Yeah”. I got the speakers up to my room and stared at my clock radio. How in the world I was going to get the speakers hooked up to that? After trying for sometime, mad that there was no way for me to use this gift, I decided to call my Father up to solve the problem. I knew there was nothing he would be able to do. I was really calling him up to say, snottily, “What the hell?”
My parents had gotten me the big stereo after all. They had simply forgotten to take the second box, the one containing the actual stereo, when they purchased the set. So all they left the store with were the speakers. My Dad braved the day after Christmas lines to find out where my stereo was so that I would have my gift as soon as possible.
You learn lessons about love in strange ways when you are a kid. Sometimes they don’t connect until you are much older, but ultimately they do connect. My parents had every right to take those speakers and return them because I was an ungrateful little brat. I had bought into the commercialism of the season, and disregarded everything they ever taught me about Christmas. But they didn’t, they choose to love me and allow me to learn.
I share this message because I want to remind you that there is not one gift you will receive tomorrow that is greater than the person who gave it to you. That gift may just be a hug and a “Merry Christmas”. It is enough that they are there with you. As my brother arrives into town from Nashville, my sister visits from Boston, and my wife and I share our first Christmas, I am thankful for the opportunity to spend another day with family members. They are my gifts in life, not just for the day. Tomorrow I will open presents, some which I will like and some which I will have no use for, but ultimately I will be surrounded by people I love and people who love me back….what greater gift can life give you?