Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Christmas had always been a joyous time at our house. There was the excitement of church pageants, choir rehearsals, buying and wrapping gifts, secrets whispered about, and always imagining that your dreams would all come true on a magical Christmas morning. One of my very favorite "life moments" arrived early each Christmas morning when the whole house was still asleep. I would slip silently down the hallway, quietly open the door, and peer into the livingroom. In the dawn's soft light I would draw closer and gaze in wonder at all the delightful magic that had appeared under our Christmas tree. I never touched anything. I only wanted to look at it in undisturbed, silent, peaceful solitude. After a few moments, I would tiptoe back to my bedroom, climb into bed, and drift off to sleep. Later, as my sisters and brother ran about screaming in joy at all the wonderful things "Santa" had brought, I would remember the beauty of the undisturbed scene.
As in all things, lives change. Now I was sixteen and Christmas was fast approaching. I wasn't sure what to expect this year because my parents had recently divorced and my mom could not find a job.Times were hard for her because she had not worked outside the home in over twenty years. As usual, that Christmas morning, I awoke early. I crept down the hallway and peeked through the doorway. The tree was smaller, but the glow was still there. I gazed at the gifts under the tree. There were fewer this year, and only one small envelope for me. I wasn't disappointed, only curious. I couldn't wait to find out what was in the envelope. I laid in bed and waited for the trumpeting of feet in the hallway, then I slid out of bed and wandered into the livingroom. Everyone sat around the tree smiling and laughing as they admired their gifts. My mom caught sight of me and drew me towards the tree. Then she placed the envelope in my hands and kissed me lightly on the cheek. I sat down next to her and slowly opened the envelope. Inside I found only a folded slip of paper. I unfolded the note and read the following words: "I owe you one Christmas gift." I watched my mom's eyes fill with tears as she smiled at me. I hugged her hard to let her know I understood her sacrifices. It reminded me of the love God has for us, his children, and the great sacrifice he gave to us by allowing his spirit son to become flesh and blood that we might live eternally. I felt the truth of Christmas that day, but it was not until years later that I realized that simple "I owe you" was the greatest gift of all I'd ever received.