This is the 14th of a series of 15 devotionals from the late 80s when my oldest sons were just little boys. This actually includes two writings – one for Christmas and then a followup story from January of that year …
It stares me in the face. It haunts me day and night. I can run, but I can’t hide. It will certainly catch me as it always does every year.
No, it is not the ghost of Christmas, but rather the knowledge that I shall once again have to take all three boys shopping for a Christmas present for mommy! God deliver me! I thought about going the catalog route.
But the idea is not simply that mommy gets a present, but rather that the boys think actively about giving more than receiving.
So, soon (like on the 23rd or 24th) I’ll bundle them up and off we’ll go to the mall or some place to look for something to buy mommy. My ideas are only slightly more defined than their thoughts. They are so excited to buy something that they’ll push for the first thing inside the door, which could be anything from a garden tractor to hunting boots.
I know, I shouldn’t feel so sorry for myself. After all, Diana takes them shopping all of the time. Actually, that is why I dread it so much. Shopping with three little boys is quite an experience. Let me quote from my wife’s journal …
10/7/88 – Today was a typical shopping trip with Nathan, Benjamin and Aaron. We went to Hillcrest Mall. Once inside the door at Orr’s Department Store, Nathan and Ben made a mad dash through the cosmetics department, toward the escalators. Once upstairs, they began the game of hide and seek in the racks of the clothing department. Later, they got lost in the dressing rooms. When we went down the escalator, Benjamin ran ahead and got off, got back on and tried to run up the steps, fell, causing a massive pileup at the bottom.
We went on to Woolworths where Benjamin got lost and started crying. I could hear him, but could not see him. I felt too silly to yell something out to him.
At Superfresh, they played their normal games of bumper carts, etc. No injuries to ourselves or other shoppers. But, coming out of the store, Aaron tripped and fell. Benjamin was daydreaming and fell on top of him. We made it home without further incident.
See what I mean? And that was just a “normal” trip. Just think what it is like when they are excited about buying presents for mommy.
But we will go, because I believe that it is important to teach them about giving. But why? Why do we give others presents at Christmas? Tradition! That is a correct answer but not a particularly biblical one.
What I am telling my boys is that there are two main reasons. We do it because the wise men established a pattern with their gifts to the newborn king. But more than that, we do it because Christ is God’s gift to man. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”
…. From the next newsletter ….
Since the last newsletter, everyone has been asking me if I took the boys shopping yet to by presents for mommy. Yes, we went yesterday (12/22) and it really was fun. I even brought home the same number of boys I took.
Our tree is surrounded with gifts, and now comes the job of holding the boys off until the 25th. Each morning the guys go downstairs early to count how many presents there are and to see if their haul is increasing. They carry them around, but they are really not very good at intelligently guessing what is inside.
Diana and I should be so uninformed! The kids simply don’t have the capacity to keep a secret. They constantly bring to me their present for me and challenge me to guess what is inside. Nathan will agree with anything I suggest, but not the younger two! A couple of days ago I guessed that there was an aardvark inside. Nathan said, “Yep, that’s right!” But Benjamin looked at him sternly and retorted, “It is not an Ortfort, Nathan; it’s a sander machine!” So much for suspense.
We four men in the house were trying to buy cookie sheets for Diana. We found them at one store, but upon unanimous consensus felt that we should look for some larger sheets. We never found any, so after taking the boys home I went back to buy two of the originals. Later, when I arrived home with the bag, Aaron and Diana greeted me at the door where Aaron said, “Are those the cookie sheets for mommy?” Diana said, “Oh well, I’ll act surprised.”
What has struck me most in the past week is how differently Diana and I think about this season as compared to the boys. The guys can’t wait for Christmas to come and their days go by very slowly. We panic at the realization of how close Christmas is and how quickly time races toward it.
That is an anomaly of life. The older you get, the faster the time goes by and the more you realize that life is very short. As the Scriptures say, we need to redeem the time for the days are evil.”
The cycles of life are good for us. Imagine if there were no years to mark the advance of time. Opportunities would not exist to evaluate the past year and make new commitments to truly become more like Christ.