Every year at Christmas my daughter Rebekah asks for a popcorn garland on the tree, and every year I hem and haw and resist. But this year I succumbed to her persistence and thanked her for it as well.
It took a couple of very pleasant and peaceful hours around the table for three of us to make enough garland for a nine-foot tree, and what a difference it makes!
The difference truly is in the details – those things that may take a little time and may seem like a chore at first – these are the things that make Christmas magic.
When we decide to make Christmas about the small things, the easily overlooked and underestimated things, the big things seem to fall into place.
Years ago I asked the kids what they wanted to do for Christmas. They made lists including going to town to see the lights, going to a Christmas Eve candlelight service at a lovely mountain chapel, getting our tree from the woods, having friends for Christmas brunch, making exceptional and traditional desserts for Christmas dinner, keeping the fire going all the time in the fireplace, along with non-stop Christmas music, putting brown packages in the mail to loved ones, making gingerbread, caroling, giving homemade gifts to the merchants in our little town, and . . . making popcorn garlands for the tree.
We’ve done most of the above in most of the years past, except for the popcorn garland. And this year I’ve come into the season with more Jesus in my heart, more thankfulness, more comfort and joy. And so, when a child asks yet again for a desire of her heart, the Love of Christ trumped the laziness of Bev, and we made our tree the best it’s ever been.
Over and over we comment on it: this is the best tree ever, and it’s because of the popcorn; I just love the popcorn; the popcorn really adds something, doesn’t it?; and so forth.
I ponder this in my heart. What makes Christmas wonderful? I will never be false enough to say it’s not about the presents, because I am enough of a child at heart to know that indeed, it is about the presents. The presents – both the giving and the receiving of them – are the participating with Jesus in showing love.
The problem with gifts is the thinking that they have to come from the electronics department, must be only affordable via credit card to be valuable, and that they’re only available from under the tree on Christmas Day.
I say Christmas can and must be practice for the giving of gifts all the time, everywhere and every way possible. This past Monday I gave the gift of listening even more than usual. I put aside my plans for the day and simply listened carefully and closely to everyone around me. And it was as though they had radar (Mom’s available) – I was listening to someone almost all day long, and well into the evening.
Yesterday John and I went to town for snow tires and out to breakfast. I’m took a gift of fine chocolates to give to our waitress. We did this a couple of weeks ago, and our waitress “happened” to be having a baby, one due on Christmas Day. She was delighted, but not so much as were we.
So back to yesterday. We prayed about where to eat, and that we’d sit with the waitress of His choosing. When I gave her the gift her face kind of melted and she asked if she could open it right then and there. “I wasn’t going to do Christmas this year,” she said. “I’m a big family person and all my family is far away and so I was just going to forget about it.” Turns out her family is in Indiana (she’s in Colorado). I tried not to cry as the conversation continued. “God did that,” I said to John when she walked away. He nodded, a bit misty-eyed as well.
Tomorrow there will be more opportunities to give – opportunities I will not only pray to see, but I will be on the lookout when God answers my prayer, which He undoubtedly will. He’s all about giving. And He’s in the details, like popcorn garlands on a tree, just because a child’s heart will be made glad because of them. What more reason do we need?