I can remember one Christmas Eve, when I was really young, being awake all night long waiting for the next morning. I'm pretty sure I didn't even believe in Santa anymore. But I was still so full of excitement because I really only wanted one thing that year, and I was pretty sure it was going to be waiting for me the next day:
My American Girl Doll.
It's the only Christmas gift I ever remember truly anticipating and waiting for.
I had asked for Addy:
We woke up Christmas morning and went through the usual routine of waking the parents, waiting to go downstairs, and finally being released to see what "Santa" had brought.
I didn't get Addy that year. Instead I got a note from Santa saying that He only had one Addy left and that there was a little African girl that wanted her too, and that he knew I'd understand and want her to have the last Addy. So instead, he brought me Kirsten.
I guess my mom just couldn't get her hands on an Addy doll. I don't know if I've ever asked her about it.
I, of course, was grateful for Kirsten too. But I will still never forget how long I had waited for Addy. And how it wasn't her that showed up.
This is kind of a silly story, but it came to my mind today when I was thinking about the anticipation of Christmas, and how sometimes, it just doesn't bring what you expect. There is always so much build up about family traditions, Christmas events, holiday parties, etc., but if you really think about, or at least when I did, I realized that it's not really the things that I most anticipate that make the moments surrounding Christmas so special, so meaningful.
See, I think it's really the things that God has brought you through to get to those moments that makes them so special. Let's see if I can wrap this up in a way that makes sense:
In the past year,
I have spent time in a country where hardly anyone knows Christ or His love for them. I have spent time with folks, even friends, here who don't know Christ's love for them. I have seen friends begin to get to know Christ.
I have joined a new church and built a strong Christian community of friends in Durham. I have become part of a new family, I have also started a new family with Adam. I have had a best friend at home be diagnosed with cancer 4 days before her wedding, go through chemo, and prepare for her final stage of treatment to start.
Our family has seen divorce and marriage, diagnoses and healing, love and hurtfulness, peace and chaos.
All since last Christmas.
And isn't this true of most families?
This year I think that it's these things that are going to really breathe meaning and life into the interactions we have at Christmas. Traditions may be similar, but the people in them come from different places each year. We all bring with us what we've been through. Good things, bad things,
But this is a beautiful thing about Christmas to me.
It's why Jesus came.
He came that we might have life and life abundantly.
And so that we could walk through this life with Him.
We come to Christmas full of anticipation and wonder why sometimes what we expected to come doesn't come. Rather, just some second hand version of it. Happiness in the moment, but perhaps not deep joy that satisfies.
I think what really fulfills us is when all of that anticipation points back to what brought us to this moment, or rather who brought us. That Christ has been with us through it all. And that He is with us still.