I’m that guy who’s out on the 24th and wrapping things minutes before the gift exchange, so right now I am cruising. No need to panic just yet…I’ve got plenty of time. I always think it’s more exciting with the panic and road rage I’ve grown so accustomed to.
Truth be told… I could live without all of the craziness.
Unfortunately, I don’t hide my feelings very well (understatement). So much so that my wife sometimes teasingly refers to me as “Scrooge”. But she knows me better than anyone else… she knows that I am not a “scrooge”. I love to give presents. I love to give them and watch my children and grandchildren open their presents. I admit I am not a fan of the process, so much so that I defer to my wife to do the buying but I have no issues with doing the financing. I just really believe that my reactions to the Christmas season can be misinterpreted.
So what is my problem? What is it that keeps me from really enjoying the Christmas Season?
I’ll tell you…
I don’t like the process of me receiving gifts. Strange right?
I find it awkward. Uncomfortable.
I am always the last to open my gifts and I just would rather open them up at a time when I am alone. I know that that could get interpreted as being ungrateful (which I never feel) or maybe that I am taking away the enjoyment that someone would get when they give me a gift. My intention is to not encourage either one of these reactions. So what is my problem? Why do I struggle with the process of accepting and opening presents that have been given to me?
This is not something new to me. I have always felt this way. I do not remember a Christmas or birthday that I was looking forward to opening presents that were given to me. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember a Christmas where I ever really asked for anything or was hoping for a certain gift or toy. To the best of my recollection, I have never made a list and I most certainly never “expected” anything. I don’t say these things to sound noble or selfless… it is just the truth of how I honestly feel and how I am.
I know that most people won’t get or understand this. But after I resigned from my job and made a career change in 1994, I had to reinvent myself. I felt like a complete failure in life. I had never really had anything in life as far as material things go… so it wasn’t like I had lost a lot of “things ” in this life.
But as a result of that event in my life, I have learned some valuable lessons in life. First of all, I am here to tell you, you never know where life is gonna take you. You leave home, go to college or start your life and you do the best you can. In that process it is so easy to get lost in this old world and forget who you are and where you came from. It is so easy to start believing that material “things” are more important than they are and you equate success to having “things”.
I don’t want “things”. I could have a nice big house (with a nice big mortgage) and I could have the new car sitting in the driveway. I don’t ask for them because I don’t want them. I have indeed re-invented myself and I have learned that having success and living a great life aren’t the same thing. You know? Success might hand you everything you ever thought you wanted… but nothing will keep you from a great life more than chasing after things and comfort.
We all work so hard to create a comfortable life, but most of us get chained up in the process. And once we finally do get comfortable, we wouldn’t possibly consider changing course because of all we could lose. We make most of our life choices based on mortgage payments, car loans, insurance, and our 401K.
I choose to have a great life as opposed to having “things” that might be considered having success. My happiness is found in my relationship with Jesus Christ, my wife, children and grandchildren. It isn’t found in any “thing” I have ever had in my life.
That is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed the gifts I have received over the years. It is just I never expected them and most certainly were not taken for granted.
I guess it’s because my favorite Christmas presents I have ever received have not been neatly wrapped in paper and sealed with ribbons and bows. My favorite presents have not come in boxes and as matter of fact… I struggle sometimes to remember physical gifts that have been given to me.
The gifts I remember and I cherish are the ones that hardly get noticed. At least not noticed by anyone else except me. I received one these gifts this weekend. Our grandsons were spending the day with me and my wife. I was holding Brody (4 months old) as he drifted off to sleep and when I looked down to see his sleepy eyes close, I was warmed with the love I have for this child. My gift this year for Christmas is the opportunity to hold him in my arms and etch that memory in my mind and in my heart. These times will pass me quickly and soon this little boy will grow up and move past having his grandpa hold him as he falls asleep. A wonderful moment in my life. A gift. A gift I don’t take for granted. A gift I don’t want to forget. A gift that is better than anything I could possibly open in a box. A gift not wrapped up in ribbons and bows but is more beautiful than my words can convey. These are the moments in life that you hold on to. That was one that I will remember as long as God gives me the ability to do so.
When my two-year old grandson Indiana says to me, “Grandpa… ready…set… go…” I know he is asking me to line up all his cars on the floor and play cars with him. We will spend the next 1/2 hour or so pushing them across that wooden floor to each other and with each squeal of “ready…set…go!!!” that Indy yells out, I will push each car at his command. Each one a gift and a memory for me. He too will one day move on… and soon enough will be asking me for the car keys to drive me somewhere. Hopefully, I will be around for that one… because it too will be a gift and a memory for me.
I have received some special gifts from my family over the years that will always be precious to me. I have a special gift that I carry with me everyday and that gift is clearer in my memory on each Christmas Day. These special gifts are the memory of when my children have used their own words and looked me in the eye and told me they loved me. That is the only present I want or need. That present is priceless. They are the ingredients to a great life.
As I stated, I choose to have a great life as opposed to having “things” that might be considered having success.
Tis the Season… yes… we are closing in on another Christmas. How might your Christmas be different this year if you stopped and considered not spending so much of your time and choices pursuing and buying “things” and focused on the important aspects of this life?
This year, give your family and those you love in your life something they can’t give themselves. Write a handwritten note to tell them you love them. Look them in the eye and tell them thank you and that you appreciate all that someone has done for you in this life.
I can assure you, this Christmas there are no greater gifts you can give.