Bedtime Theology with the 10 yo...  

Me: Well, we’re going back to school tomorrow (after school was closed for a week during a snowpocalypse). This was probably the best week of your life, huh?

10 yo: Well, actually, I think Christmas is the best week of my life.

Me: That makes sense. You do get a lot of presents.

10 yo: Yeah. And also giving presents is fun because you get to watch them open it and they’re surprised.

This was the gospel proclamation I needed to hear in this season where my inbox was already filling up with retailers announcing BLACK FRIDAY STARTS EARLY and LAST CHANCE FOR 25% OFF. Shortly thereafter was the actual Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. It's not even December and I'm already tired of the capitalist frenzy of the season.

My attitude has not been aided by the fact that this same 10-year-old has been begging, pleading and  imploring us to get him a Nintendo-something for Christmas. We don't have any video game players and want to hold off awhile longer, which makes me the LEAST COOL MOM EVER. Christmas with kids is magical, yes, but it can also feature begging for stuff, whining about who got more and someone throwing a tantrum on Christmas morning because they didn't like their present (true story).

I have not bought one single Christmas gift for any of my three children yet, and, if I'm honest, part of me dreads getting started. I look around this house and think: we have enough toys. We have too much clutter. What do these kids really need? I think about a college friend whose family one year decided to forsake gifts all together and take a family trip to the Grand Canyon. I'm tempted, but it would be mutiny.

So it's in this headspace, that the same Nintendo-loving kid preached this good news to me: giving presents is fun because you get to watch them open it and they're surprised. You get to watch them open it. It's elegant in its simplicity. It's the heart of the season. You sit side by side with someone you love. You watch for their surprise, delight, joy. This is why we brave the lines at Costco, wade through online sales and scan for emails offering 20% off. We want - we long for - the joy of giving, sometimes more than the joy of receiving. 

The narrative arc of the Old and New Testaments tell us about a God who gives, perhaps for the sheer joy of it all. God creates a world, makes a nation, delivers a people. God even gives gifts when God knows it's not necessarily in the people's best interest (they wanted a king, they got kings and most of them were lousy). God is a giver.

Then, God wants to get closer, to sit side by side with these humans that God loves. So God sends a son, the proclamation of the good news coming as a child. The good news of God so often comes this way: from the mouths of babes, from the margins, from unexpected people and places.

This season, I am listening for it. 


Popular Posts