18 Dec 2010
Every family has those traditions and days that help define their family. I personally know some families (although I shall not divulge any names unless there is enough cash present) that are adequately defined by April 1. For me, Christmas Eve clearly defines me.
Christmas Eve means many things to me. For one, it means shopping. Yes, it is true; I do all my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. It cuts down on the stress. I know some people who spend weeks shopping and their life is full of stress.
Unlike me in many ways, the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage begins her Christmas shopping in January and by August, she is in full shopping spree. There should be a law that any present bought before December cannot be considered a Christmas present.
When the children were still at home, I was just as eager as they were on Christmas morning to see what I had bought them for Christmas. They always appreciated the thought that went into their gift. You did not hear this from me, but sometimes my wife was surprised at the gift as well.
There have been times, and you did not hear it from me, when my wife bought a Christmas present and forgot about it by the time December rolled around. Once, and I will never repeat this, we discovered a cache of Christmas presents in the corner of our garage when we were packing to move. Only Santa really knows how long they were there.
Up to this year, I have successfully eluded such Christmas faux pas. My Christmas Eve starts bright and early in the morning. My first stop is the “Slurp ‘N Burp Café” for a big breakfast. After an early breakfast, it is off to the mall for my Christmas Eve ritual of shopping. I only go to the mall once a year.
It is a tradition with me. My philosophy is, the more torturous the shopping experience the more the recipient will appreciate the gift. For me, nothing is more torturous than a visit at the local shopping mall.
Some go to the mall for pleasure and recreation. I go for penitence.
The average mall is so anti-man that every man enters its doors at his own peril. Many insurance companies have a disclosure, in fine print, in their policies to men making all insurance claims invalid when in a shopping mall.
Shopping malls are deliberately designed to frustrate the male equation of the marital state of mind. Let me list a few observations in this regard: Is it just me, or do they move the mall stores around from year to year just to confuse the average man? Why is it, no matter what door I enter the mall it is never there when I want to leave?
Once inside the mall it only takes me three hours to acclimate myself to the hostile environment. By that time, I am hopeless lost. As I wander aimlessly around the mall, I try to remember why I am there. One of the things on my shopping agenda is a Christmas present for my wife. Although I have had over 38 years experience in this, I am no better off then our first Christmas.
In all those years, I have given her everything from jewelry to perfume to bubble bath. At this stage in my life, I do not know what to get her.
Last year I was tempted to wrap myself and put the box under the tree, but I was afraid I would suffocate by Christmas morning. As I wandered from store to store, I could not find anything to buy for her. I could get her a card with money in it but I’m afraid the check would bounce - and then I would.
If I bought her a dress, I would only be putting my life on the line. If the dress I bought were too small, she would be offended to think I thought she was gaining weight. If the dress I bought was too large – well, you know what that would mean.
If I did not get her something, I would look pretty silly come Christmas morning – I mean sillier than usual.
Wandering in and out of store after store brought me no closer to that gift of all gifts that would say, “I think you’re terrific.”
I was exhausted and about to give up and go home in shameful disgrace. Then, when I was about to give up, there it was. The perfect gift. I could not believe my eyes. I rubbed them in disbelief and loudly exclaimed, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus after all.”
I wept, I laughed, I burped (musta been the soda). Right before my eyes was the perfect gift for my wife. A gift that said, “Honey, you’re the greatest.” Watching the salesperson carefully wrap my Christmas trophy, I could not help thinking about the real meaning of Christmas.
God searched all of heaven to find that one special gift to tell mankind how much He really loved them. Finding nothing better, He settled on that Gift of all gifts, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 KJV).
My Christmas prayer is that this year you will celebrate with me God’s gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ.
Rev. James L. Snyder