One of my most shining moments was the year that Grandma bought a Cabbage Patch (registered trademark symbol goes here) Doll for my cousin. When I saw her doll, I just knew that Grandma had bought me one, too. Only she didn't. She had made me a little Indian doll with handmade clothes and a little plastic face. I was crushed. I took my mama to the bedroom (or maybe she took me...it's a little unclear) and just sobbed that I had wanted one, too. Mama was very wise and told me, "Jana Rae (not my real name...mostly), someday, you're gonna look back on this day and regret it. And you will treasure this doll. Right now, you are disappointed, but you'll be glad you have this doll. Now go say "Thank You" to Grandma." So I did, but my heart was black for a long time. I do regret that initial reaction (yeah, I was a kid, but still!), and I wish I'd been more gracious.
Now, Grandma is gone, and all I have is a Christmas quilt that she had not finished (a sweet lady from my home church finished it for me), sweet memories of her, and that doll. I miss my Grandma and I wish that my boys had a chance to meet her. They would have been just like me: heart swelling with love and just a little bit in awe of her.
Now, that I'm older, I could focus on the mostly agreed upon fact that the cousin who received the CPD was, in fact, a favorite, but I choose to treasure that handmade doll; or I could focus on the many years where we didn't receive all the presents (or hardly any) that we wished for, but I choose to remember the sacrifices that my mom and dad made; Or I could focus on all the ways that someone somewhere did something to my family or me, and I could be bitter. But because of His great love, I can forgive and I can rejoice that I have any family memories, good or bad. I can also be content...most of the time.
My little family here has so much more than what I had growing up, but I still see the need to teach my boys that we need to be grateful for everything we have and to bless others with what God has entrusted us. We try to teach the boys about contentment and gratefulness, but I know that come Christmas morning, they may be disappointed because they didn't get everything that was on their (multiple) lists. I've tried to prepare them, but can we ever prepare them enough for life's disappointments?
As I told DH last night on the way to some friends' house for dinner, "I wish we lived closer to family, so the boys will have Christmas memories of cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I just want that so much for my boys." So, clearly, they come by this propensity towards discontentment quite naturally.
I think it's because of our sin nature that we always want what we don't have. We know that there's something better out there, and in case you don't know, that Better is Jesus. He doesn't always give us what we want, but He's already given us what we need. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord." That's what we need. Not more stuff, more money, more time, or to be closer to our family. We need God's forgiveness for our black hearts, and we can have that through repentence and faith through Jesus' work on the cross.
As you celebrate Christmas this year with your family, enjoy your traditions, your treats, and your gifts, but don't forget to celebrate the baby in the manger, the man on the cross, the Giver of Salvation to all who will ask.