A couple weeks ago, my daughter interrupted our bedtime routine with an unusual statement,  “I hope tomorrow’s not Christmas.”

In our house, we go all out with Christmas. We love the decorations, the stories, the movies - we embrace it all! We get excited about going to see Santa and making our lists. My kids have been asking about Christmas since early October, so to say this comment was unexpected would be an understatement. 

But there it was, “I hope tomorrow’s not Christmas.” 

What makes a kid want to wait longer for Christmas? What changes excitement and anticipation into dread and anxiousness?  So I asked her, “Why?”

Her response was to the point, “I had a bad day. I was naughty.”

It all made perfect sense. Because if Santa knows if she’s bad or good, his judgement of what kind of gifts she should get on Christmas morning was in jeopardy. If her good behavior determined the gifts of Christmas morning, she needed more time. She needed another shot to be on her best behavior. She needed one more chance to make it onto the nice list. 

But if Christmas was only hours away, she was in big trouble. 

For a kid, “He’s making a list and checking twice,” is hardly good news. Certainly the pressure is alluring for a desperate parent like myself trying to find some strategy to create more well-behaved children. But the results are generally dismal. 

I love how this post from Mockingbird described this same dilemma: 

As we all know, any gift premised on deserving is not really a gift at all. It’s more of a paycheck, an act based in reciprocity rather than generosity. A gift, on the other hand, is a decidedly lopsided transaction, and therefore a fitting image for Christmas, which marks the remembrance of Christ’s birth.

@@In a season full of gifts and giving, pure gift is still scandalous.@@ Our world can hardly fathom the idea of a pure gift. Gifts seem to only be for the deserving. They're a transaction for those who've earned our appreciation or our attention. Gifts always come with strings attached - this for that. But pure, undeserved, unexpected gift? That doesn't happen. 

And it's in the midst of a dark night, that pure gift arrives. In an unbecoming bed, Jesus arrives unlike other gifts. He's not wrapped up very nice and the shepherds certainly weren't expecting what the angels would say, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."

And just like that, God's pure gift was born. Jesus arrives, no strings attached. 

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" - 2 Corinthians 9:15

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