We are gathered in the quiet early morning amidst twinkles and tinsel. My boys are running in elated circles as I drink my coffee with half-opened eyes and gift tape still stuck to my pajamas from late-night wrapping. What would Christmas morning be like without coffee? I wonder. And then I take another sip. Because clearly that’s the question of a woman who hasn’t had enough caffeine.
The boys settle on the floor around the coffee table and my husband curls in next to me on our oversized couch. The dog, not to be forgotten, hedges his giant black bottom onto my lap. With my coffee steaming beside me in its pink sparkly cup, I lean forward to grab the white Bible my husband’s parents gave us on our wedding day. It was given with the intention of us picking up their Christmas morning tradition: savoring our Savior on his birthday.
Thumbing through the Bible’s thin pages to Luke Chapter Two, I read several verses aloud before passing it on to my husband. As he reads, I watch the faces of my boys. They’ve heard this story each year since they were toddlers, but as they edge closer to double digits, their understanding is ripening. Their fresh pink lips are open in awe of the story, and yet they still bounce with anticipation, amped up to begin doling out presents.
I marvel at the moment, the rare melodic voice of my husband reading, the whimsical faces of my boys. No fighting. No clamoring for something to which I’ve already said no. Just love for this day that I used to take for granted, for this story of a baby who has grown my heart immeasurably.
Years ago, the Grinch loved Christmas more than I did. All that singing, all the joy, the Hallmark movies and the decorating gone wild. I couldn’t take it. It was too much. Still, I was a girl, and I had needs: fashion and shoes, makeup and music, gift cards to Starbucks. Despite how I grimaced at the sound of a carol, I put hours into honing the perfect Christmas wish list. It was the season of receiving, and I was happy to put myself at the top of everyone’s list.
As a child I wanted for very little, but I never knew I could want Jesus. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I have great memories of my dad making fresh-squeezed orange juice and family members squished into small spaces, but I had no idea Jesus had anything to do with Christmas. Though as a little girl I loved to sing “Silent Night” in front of a holiday audience, I never knew it was a song about our precious Savior’s birth. All the pieces of Jesus’s incredible story surrounded me, but they’d never been put together for me.
When we moved our young family to Richmond, Virginia six years ago, those “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” signs were a revelation to this un-churched girl. It wasn’t until after I’d invited Jesus into my life that I was excited to decorate our home with endless garland, angels and nativity scenes, traces of Scripture in every room. It’s a good thing I found Jesus because, around here, the stores are stocked with Christmas décor in August. The Grinch version of me wouldn’t have lasted long. And for that I’m thankful.
As my husband closes the Bible, the boys launch across the room and slide into the tree. They read nametags and toss gifts into piles, planning their present-opening strategy. I’m humbled by the work Jesus has done in my life, how he’s shaped my selfish inclinations into the desire to see our children love the Lord. I may still need the coffee on Christmas morning– sometimes a lot of it – but I don’t need presents under the tree. When Jesus came to Christmas, it was the best gift I could receive.
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