I want my children to get Christmas. It was during a Christmas season several years ago that they each bowed their little heads and received Jesus into their hearts. Christmas is all about God's love, and I rejoiced because they got it. But as they age and the season is surrounded with more and more parties, the insanity of four schedules and a preoccupation with what they'll get, I wonder, do they get it at all?
This was my concern as my daughter, Eva, and I marathon-malled in search of the perfect presents for several of her friends. She'd saved her allowance and babysitting money but had succumbed to her own desires as she plunked down a portion of her cash on a few items for herself. "Oh, Mom, it's okay. I'll still have plenty," she rationalized.
"Christmas isn't about yourself," I reminded her. "It's for expressing your love for Jesus by lavishing love on others. That costs you something?like money or time or effort."
One of the things my mother did right was Christmas. While we didn't have much, she used her imagination to make even the simplest offering a spectacle. At Christmas, her elaborate boxes communicated love with a capital L, and as I matured, I grew to recognize the God behind these gestures.
Paul's prayer for the Ephesians has been my prayer for my children, " ? that you may grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ ? that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:18-19). That's love with a capital L. Lavish love based on God's redeeming gift of the Christ child.
As a mom, I wrap gifts in our basement "Christmas Room," intent on passing down my mother's capital-L love legacy to my children. Of course, our family has intentionally sealed Christmas gift-giving with deeper symbols of our faith: Bible stories, church pageants, volunteer work to the less fortunate. But as I walked the mall with my daughter, I pondered, Were my children only getting the goodies or would they ever get the meaning behind them?
Reality crashed home for Eva at Bath and Body Works when she had only $20 left for four friends. I took the opportunity to deliver another sermon: "Love doesn't have a price tag. You can invest time and thought as well as money to make someone feel special." She selected a variety of candles, lip balm and lotions?plenty.
Late that night I found Eva in the "Christmas Room," paper and bows spread about her in a mound. She'd been at it for more than an hour folding, taping, curling and clipping until her pile of presents resembled a department store window display.
Lavish. Love with a capital L. She got it.
Elisa Morgan is president of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International. Her most recent book is Meditations for Mothers (Zondervan). Elisa lives in Colorado with her husband, Evan, and their two children. For information about a MOPS group in your area, call (800) 929-1287.
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