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What’s on Your Christmas List?

Holidays are occasions for trotting out well-worn traditions. One holiday tradition in many Christian families involves creating Christmas wish lists. The family I served as a nanny during my college years was a keeper of this tradition.

The family included Mom (Jacque), Dad (Steve), and two teenage boys (Greg and David.) David was particularly enamored of the wish-list tradition. He happily announced his after-Thanksgiving dinner plans while the turkey was being carved. Greg willingly participated, but wasn’t as energized by the practice.

I don’t recall the exact items that the boys listed each year, but I do recall that David’s list was lengthy and detailed, and included a number of expensive items. Greg’s list, by contrast, was much shorter, less descript, and had a lower bottom line.

Once the boys had completed their lists, they joined the adults in the family room and presented their drafts. At the end of the recitations, Steve, said, “Now that you have shared what you want, tell us what you really need and why.”

David eagerly made an elaborate case for why his parents should provide him with the latest video games and name-brand sporting equipment. Greg, meanwhile, explained that his items would replace things outgrown or worn out.

No one was surprised when David became a lawyer, and Greg went to work for a boutique beverage company. These young men’s personalities and approaches to life seemed hardwired from the beginning.

What was not hardwired for either young man was the practice of reflecting on and articulating what he needed. This practice was instilled by their parents who were rightfully more concerned about their children developing good values and healthy relationships than making piles of money or accumulating a lot of things.

During the season of Advent we are awakened to the good news that God knew and God knows what our greatest needs are. They can be written on a list, but they cannot be bought from a store. This is why God sent Jesus Christ into the world—to give us love, forgiveness, grace, peace, and compassion—and to encourage us to give these gifts away. Let us do so with open arms and outstretched hands.

Pastor Arlene

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