We have been getting the holiday gift guides in the mail. At first, I loved it. I watched my five-year-old son lovingly and excitedly show my two-year-old daughter the process of Christmas list making. They sat together, sharing a pen (SHARING!) and taking turns circling the items they wanted to open on Christmas morning. Even my one-year-old took a few turns pointing. When I started to look through their circled items to narrow down their lists to give to family I quickly became overwhelmed with the amount of items circled. In a few instances, entire pages were circled. I couldn’t tell which child circled an item and if they circled it for themselves or their little brother. There were items circled that I felt certain they had no idea what they even were. I explained this to my husband who replied “They’re two and five. You don’t need to go through that, we can just get them whatever we want for them.” So, I put down the ads and started to think about what I would want for them. Of course, I don’t really care about the toys and games, they have plenty of those anyways. I wasn’t sure if they even needed many clothes, school supplies, or educational activities. The thought that kept coming in my mind was “I want them to have Jesus.”
I want my children to wake up Christmas morning, and every morning, excited that their Savior was born. I want them to celebrate the gift Christ is to us and the reality that He will come again. I want them to know Jesus at an early age and to grow in strength and knowledge about Him. I want them to store their treasure in heaven, not here on earth in their toy box or piggy bank. I want them to give more than they receive. I want them to be compassionate and empathetic towards the needs of others. I want them to be kind and love their neighbors well. I want them to recognize injustice and to speak up when they see it. I want them to have a heart for service and putting others before themselves. I want them to have confidence to use the talents and gifts that God has given them and will bestow on them when they accept Christ in their hearts. I want them to be bold and courageous in their faith so that every person they meet sees Jesus when they look at them. I want them to love themselves and understand that God gave them every ability, every personality trait, every passion, every quirk, every flaw – everything about themselves – because that is what God knew they needed to bring Him the most glory. I want them to understand grace, both to receive it and give it. I want them to experience the butterflies, goosebumps and heart-pounding feeling of the Spirit working in them, calling them, nudging them to pursue something bigger than themselves. I want them to have Jesus.
I cannot buy these things. I can’t wrap them up in pretty paper with a big bow. I can do my best to lead them to these things, but it is not even me who can give these things to them. So, for now, I’ll pick out a few toys or special things and I’ll wrap them up. They will see the pretty paper and big bows under the tree on Christmas morning. But before they open them, we will read the story of the birth of Jesus. We will tell them the story doesn’t end with a baby in a manger. We will talk about the gift of Jesus and we will pray for them to accept that gift. We will tell them we bought them presents because we love them and love to do special things for them because their joy brings us joy. They will open their presents with laughs and smiles then give hugs and “thank yous” and then it will all be over. Sooner than I’d like they’ll grow out of the clothes and toys. But I will pray every single day that as they mature and grow out of these things that they would grow into a relationship with Jesus. I will pray that they come to know and understand the gift that Jesus is to each of us and that they will choose to pursue his eternal gift instead of the failing pleasures of this world. I will pray for them to have Jesus.