Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Things Stories are Made of

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Having seven kids from 10-24 years of age (5 teenagers at one time), I am often down on them.  Let's face it, teenagers usually don't think of anyone else but themselves.  It gets old...having five at once it gets old really quick.  Don't get me wrong...I love my kids.  I just don't like them all of the time.

Well, this Christmas I had my full of them.  Seeing that "entitlement" is one of my biggest pet peeves, and since most of my children were feeling entitled to a big Christmas ("cash only this Christmas, Dad"), I lost all of the sense of pleasure the season could offer...that was until two specific events changed my attitude and my heart.

First, my family attended and participated in our church's annual Christmas Eve service.  We're a small church that runs 145-165 on a Sunday.  Well, our little church had over 200 people in our Christmas Eve service.  Can you believe it?  On the eve of our culture's "give me" Christmas glitz, over 200 people set aside an hour of their precious time to celebrate the real reason for the season...our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It was beautiful...probably the greatest gift I've had in a long time.  And, as we left church, we passed church after church of people going to or coming from Christmas Eve worship services.  Wow!

Then, as my children's attitudes of entitlement persisted, that wonder and joy slipped back away.  I went to bed dreading once again the Christmas time.  And as I drifted off to sleep I wondered how we digressed from Wise Men bringing precious gifts from afar to everyone else getting gifts on Jesus' birthday.  Can you imagine the look on your child's face if he/she sat down at the birthday table, blew out the candles and watched everyone else exchange gifts?  No one gave him/her any?  I don't think they would be very happy.

Well, back to my family.  We exchanged our gifts and I walked away disappointed in the lack of appreciation and gratitude.  Then, my oldest daughter gave my wife and I an envelope.  It was the first of many clues that led to a surprise.  At the end of our journey we opened a gift sack that had a letter of thanks, a gift card for a dinner date, and a reservation to a hotel.  They had even arranged places for each of them to stay with friends or family.  Wow!  Just when I had given up, God surprised me again.

Now, those are the things stories are made of.  Merry Christmas to all...and to all a great new year!


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