Christmas Presence

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Christmas has come and gone, and I received some beautiful gifts – jewelry from my husband, fleece-lined Toms shoes from my kids, a book, a pair of cozy pajamas. But the gifts that meant the most to me were intangible.

The best thing about this Christmas season was having all four kids together under our roof. When they were all young, this is something I simply took for granted. At times I even found it stressful. But this week has been one of long conversations at the dinner table, lots of reminiscing about Christmases past, the fun of helping the kids find gifts to give each other, and even laughter when my son brought down to the tree a gift bag that said “Be My Valentine.”

On Christmas day, we always drive up to Michigan to spend the evening with my husband’s family. Here too there are plenty of brightly wrapped presents under the tree. But here too the pleasure is more in the ritual of gift-opening, youngest person to oldest, than it is anything we might receive materially. The clamor, the laughter, the teasing – it’s all part of what makes the four hour drive worth it.

Once again, I received a beautifully wrapped basket from my sister-in-law with such goodies as wine and chocolate to go with wine. But the most beautiful gift in the basket was a notebook. At first glance, I thought it was a journal in which to write my thoughts. But when I opened it, I saw that each page was chock full of inspirational sayings, Bible quotes, and art work hand created by her. It was so touching and thoughtful, and I will treasure it long after the other contents of the baskets are gone.

More than anything, Christmas celebrates Emmanuel, “God with us.” And if it’s true what they say – that God is in the details – then I cherish the memory of every scrap of ribbon, Christmas cookie crumb, and warm hug from family members that speaks to the God in our midst on Christmas Day and every day.

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