When I was growing up, my grandmother Lois lived close enough that she spent every Christmas Eve and morning with my family. Born in 1891, her perspective about life differed from mine. After all, she had uncles who had fought in the Civil War and remembered life without the light bulb and telephone. Moreover, she had raised a family during the Great Depression as a single parent.
She wasn’t one to preach with words, but her actions said plenty. And one of the greatest lessons I learned from her came from watching her on Christmas morning. She never rushed to open a present the way I was wont to do. She savored every part of the gift – the bow, the ribbon, and especially the paper. For her the paper was a treasure of its own, often a memory of other presents and other Christmases, and a clue to the giver. For instance, she and I loved one particular paper – a purple paper with a silvery glitter swirl – that each year would alternate between us. When we saw that paper, we knew who the giver was. And so when I saw her handle that paper, tenderly, patiently, she communicated love of the gift and of the giver.
I imagine that Mary held her baby in much the same way. Filled with the tender love of that new and precious life, I imagine she held him with great care, the way one does a priceless treasure. I imagine that in those first hours of his life, the baby Jesus’ demands tested the patience of his young mother and carpenter father. And yet, I imagine that as Jesus looked into their faces, Mary and Joseph rejoiced in the gift of new life and in his bright eyes filled with hope and love, they caught a glimpse of the One who had given them this gift – a giver of joy in the midst of life’s hardships, a giver of light in the presence of darkness, a giver of peace in the midst of turmoil.
At Christmas, we experience God as both gift and giver. Through Jesus, we experience the fullness of God. We treasure the priceless gift of God’s own Son and we marvel at God’s gracious generosity in becoming one of us.
May we, like Mary and Joseph, receive the gift of Emmanuel, God with us, with arms wide open. May we, like Mary and Joseph, cradle the gift of new life with hearts overflowing with joy. And may we look with awe into the eyes of the baby in the manger and see our brother, our Savior and our Lord.
Merry Christmas, dear ones! Lynne