My daddy brought an “Artic Cat Kitty Cat” snowmobile for me on a 1972 Christmas Eve. Donning a purple helmet and a little snowmobile suit, I was thrilled. Not only was it a cool gift, but also it represented his belief in me that I could handle a piece of equipment, keep up with him on the trails, and was ready to brave the cold. We toasted with eggnog in our house on Hidden Bay Drive. Punctuating this night was the memory that I was very sick with pneumonia and house bound for several weeks. He brought the large, motorized sled into the white-carpeted living room for me. Just because it gave me hope. It was a significant present that I still remember with great fondness.
I am blessed with an earthly father who gives good gifts to his children and grandchildren. Through his attention and care, he has shown me again and again the heart of the Heavenly Father who also gives good gifts – awesome earthly ones and eternal ones, too. James 1: 17 reminds us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (NKJV)
During this season, I was particularly aware of the gifts around me. My mother and I sat at the keyboard of the ebony, upright piano, planning the 2015 Christmas Chapel. Singing through music options. Harmonizing. Mother and daughter sharing a lifelong bond of music chords. I was honored to share this idea of “gifts” at Mrs. Lee’s Winter Piano Recital where young pianists shared their talents of music with the audience. Proud parents give financial gifts of piano lessons to their promising pupils. Sweet gifts – ones that keep on giving. Equally beautiful was the moment when our sixth graders sang, “Love’s Pure Light came down tonight, love so pure, so free. Little baby, God in flesh, love came down to me.”
Ann Voskamp (one of my favorite poet/author/theologians) says, “Gratitude opens the gifts.” It is only through the eyes of thankfulness our hearts and hands can receive these timeless treasures. Otherwise, we miss them. We are often looking and waiting for the big things when it is the little things that matter after all.
Everyday, there are gifts to open. You can find them in the everyday details of painted sunrises, childish giggles, a brief embrace, a wink from across the room, a warm blanket, a cup of cold water, a harmonizing melody, college-age kids all sleeping in their own beds at home for Christmas break, singing carols with the guitar to a 98 year-old grandfather, enjoying a chapel service with candles, burlap on a lighted tree, cabin socks, a handwritten greeting card from a far away place, forgiveness, unconditional love, being understood.
At this moment, I am keenly aware of the fragileness and brevity of life. A sweet child, a former student of Hand In Hand’s Children House, currently a missionary kid in Kenya, passed away unexpectedly right after Christmas Day. We grieve. We question how this could happen. We wait for answers. We hold our own children tighter and wonder. And then realize all the more that each day is a gift. We have only this moment to hold. Yesterday is already gone and tomorrow might not come, but we have today. Open it, with gratitude.
Click here to listen to a 1970’s gospel classic with the Gaither Trio singing “We Have This Moment.” It was one of my parent’s favorites growing up and still holds truths for today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8i9GNHJENo