Every year, my wife and I have an uneasy time discussing how to celebrate Christmas. Judy believes in making sure everyone in the family gets a nice gift, and that we should all gather together to exchange them. Unfortunately, our family now consists of five generations! Judy's mother has a nice home here in town, that will accommodate about a dozen people for such an occasion, but at the last event, Thanksgiving, we counted about thirty-five. Such a crowd certainly adds to the stress of all concerned. My sister-in-law is the only one that has a home large enough for a crowd that size, and even then, about half of them spend most of the day on the lower level. The children go there without being asked because they are out of the eye sight of the adults, and are able to exhibit their natural character. Our house is the smallest of all, and when there are more than eight adults, it is uncomfortable, to say the least.
My idea of the ideal gathering is for each family within the whole family, celebrate with each of the other families on different days. That keeps the crowd size down, and provides for better supervision of children. It means we all get more joy out of getting together, if for no other reason than we are not have to take a number to speak. The larger the crowd, the less likely are the majority going to be able to converse with each other. And, as far as gifts go, I suggest that only children in school get a gift from each family, and for the rest of the herd to draw names. Once one begins living on Social Security, buying gifts for so many is absurd. It is difficult enough to pay the ever-increasing prices of food, shelter, and utilities, without going further in debt in order to "celebrate" a holiday. Birthdays, alone, are a great strain on the finances!
After forty-seven years of marriage, I know that I am wasting my breath, so each holiday, I tell everyone that I am not going to participate, only to be quilted into compliance. It is amazing how the majority of people in the world are wondering from where their next meal is coming, or if they will freeze to death due to lack of home, or heat, or clothing. I admit, my buying less gifts and food for our extravaganzas would not necessarily reduce the suffering of mankind, but I really do believe it would. Perhaps, instead of buying gifts for each other, we could spend the amount of a gift on Bibles, or clothing, or food for the less fortunate. We could send a card to each person saying what was donated in their name. Who am I kidding! I would get lynched! I am probably better off just keeping my mouth shut and not making waves.
It is sad that few if any of us realize that what we want more than anything else, is the awareness of the very presence of the Lord in our daily lives. Presents are nice, but His presence is the ultimate in producing joy. I have never been as happy as when I am aware that God is using me. It is those times that His child knows that He is Father. It is then that he knows that he is Christ-like. It is then that he overflows with love from the Spirit of God. I have experienced those times. Unfortunately, they are rare and, as a result, I feel distant from Him. Thank God my feelings do not determine where He is; He is with me every moment, so much so, that He was with me in my mother's womb. In Jeremiah 1:5, God tells us that even before we were in the womb, He knew us, and that before we were born, we were sanctified! He set us apart for His good pleasure! And, after this life is over, we will be with Him (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Isn't it funny that the word presents and the word presence sound alike? You know what is even more amazing? God, being omnipresent (present everywhere all the time), is know by His name, "I Am!" God could have said, "I Was." or "I Will Be." or He could have said, "I Was, I Am, and I Will Be." But He didn't need to. Being "I Am" covers it all. There wasn't, nor will there ever be a time when God didn't exist. He is always present! Don't you wish Christmas could be, for everyone, the experiencing of His presence? Jesus was God's gift to us. All He wants in return is for us to say thank you and for us to pass on His gift to others. In that sense, "re-gifting" doesn't sound cheap, does it? Re-gift this Christmas as a present to Jesus.