There are moments in the Christmas season (which seems to last way too long) when the whole thing feels like a great big hassle. I'm not a shopper so I don't enjoy the process of figuring out what everyone wants, and then running around to find and buy it all. And then when it's just too late to do any more, I take inventory of what I've gotten and worry about whether it's enough. And there's that nagging feeling that all this giving and getting of STUFF that we all don't really need anyways shouldn't be the focus of this religious holiday about a humble birth.
BUT...I just have to remember about my very favorite part of Christmas, which is not the too quick ripping open of the presents, and the smiles and the gratitude. That part is good, sure, but my best moment is on Christmas Eve, when the boys are getting tucked into bed. They are just brimming with excitement about the day come, willing themselves to fall asleep (the opposite of usual) and yet least able to do it, on this Night of Wonder. As in: "I wonder if Santa really is out there? I wonder if I will get what I wish for? I wonder if I dropped enough hints to get what I really want? I wonder if it's not too late for one more..." And they lie there knowing one thing for sure which is that tomorrow Christmas will come, and the questions will be answered, and there will presents and food and church and relatives and cousins and things that are new and different and maybe even better than before.
So that is what I remind myself as I try not to get scotch tape stuck in my hair while wrapping all these presents. That the real gift is the moment of going to sleep and looking forward to that next day, because even though life has it's hard parts there's always hope for a moment of joy sometime after you wake up. So maybe the whole present thing does make sense, if it brings it around to remember who brings us believers just that: hope for joy.
Merry Christmas to you, and my wish for all of us is that every evening we can have even the tiniest portion of what floats through these little boys heads this one night: a bit of excitement about what might happen the next day, because it just might be something real good.