December 5, 2009

Dear Jack, Month 30

Dear Jack,

We celebrate Christmas this month and I'm excited that you will get what's going on this year more than you did the last two years. This morning, we were hanging stockings and I asked, "Do you think you'll get any presents in your stocking?" And I wish I would have had a camera to capture the look of confusion mixed with hope on your face when you glanced at me out of the corner of your eye and said, "Presents?"

One side of your mouth curled into a smile (when you do this, it's one of the few times that I think you look more like me than your father) and you started asking questions like, "What will Santa bring?" and "When does Santa come?" Ever since Halloween, you've asked what you get to dress up as for Christmas, and you were no longer disappointed that Christmas doesn't involve costumes. Because THERE WILL BE PRESENTS!

One of my "parenting goals" this month is to teach you how to graciously accept gifts . . . well, as much as a 2 1/2 year old can. By the way, have I mentioned yet that you're two and a half? As of Wednesday, you're closer to 3 years old than you are to 2 years old. Ugh . . . I can't talk about that right now.

Anyway . . .accepting gifts. I'm of the opinion that far too few people can 1) talk naturally about Jesus in their every day lives and 2) accept a gift graciously. I'm sure there are more things on that list, but those are the first two that come to my mind.

When people give us gifts . . . in any way shape or size . . . we are to accept them with gratitude. Not always because we necessarily love what they're giving us, but because they thought enough of us to give us something. It's not about how much they spent. It's not even about how much thought they put into it or the attitude with which they've given it. If someone gives you something, it's reason for gratitude. So, we thank them for it. We comment on how useful it might be, or how it's our favorite color, or how it will come in handy. Non insincere comments . . . honest thoughts of appreciation about the gift. There's always something positive that can be said about a gift.

Over Christmas, you'll be getting quite a few gifts. And at times, they'll come rapidfire . . . one right after another. Too often, we look at our gifts, say "thanks" and move on to the next. I'll be there to encourage you to take your time and show sincere appreciation. I know . . . you're only two. But I can try, right?

You've played with your toy nativity set enough over the last week to know about the basics about the real Christmas story. We've talked about Mary and Joseph . . . the shepherds and the wisemen . . . the angels. I've even tried to tell you about the culture during the time when Jesus was born . . . which was met with blank stares and repeated requests to stack the characters of your wooden nativity set in a tower so that you could knock them down.

I thought about explaining that your book that tells the story of Christmas was lying when it said, "Mary, and her husband Joseph, were expecting a baby" but decided that it might be too soon to unwrap the mystery of the virgin birth. We'll just hold off on that one. You do, however, know that Jesus is God's son and that he came to earth to live among us. You know it, but you don't really understand it . . . and if I'm honest with myself, I guess I don't really understand it either.

You'll get lots of gifts this Christmas, but we both know that the most precious gift was the one we actually celebrate during this time of year . . . Jesus, coming to earth as one of us. Coming to save us. You'll unwrap gifts and empty your stocking, but my hope is that as you grow older, you'll become increasingly overwhelmed with gratitude at the magnitude of that most important gift. May your heart swell every time you hear the story and may you be inspired by the wonder of it all.

Emmanuel. God with us.

I love you, Jack. Merry Christmas.


P.S. My apologies for not having any pictures of you alone this month. I'll do better next month.

1 comment:

The Giffen Family said...

I know these letters are for Jack, but I appreciate you sharing them with the rest of us. I enjoy "seeing" your love for your two year old even when situations are hard pressed for love. What a wonderful tesitment you are to motherhood and how blessed your boys are to have you as their mother. Just wanted to share that (it's been floating around in my head since the first time I read one of these letters)