Sunday, December 29, 2013

the joy of giving

The Christmas season is drawing to a close and the New Year is quickly approaching. I finally have a moment to sit and reflect upon this beautiful season. The highlight of Christmas this year was witnessing Annike's progression in understanding the purpose of gifts during this season.

Christmas with small children is a lot of hearing them look forward to the presents they will get. I remember the feeling too as a child when I couldn't wait to tear into those enticing packages tempting me under the tree.

In the final weeks before Christmas we did our best to combat the "want" feeling with gentle reminders... What is Christmas really about? Giving. Who is the real gift? Jesus.

In an effort to emphasize the "giving" side of Christmas, I usually have Annike shop for a small present to give to a few family members. It takes a lot of parental direction. "I think Daddy would like a new toy animal!" she says, or "How about getting him this coloring book? Maybe he will let me color my favorite pages!" Unfortunately, the ability to give unselfishly does not come naturally to all people. But I have learned it can be taught, and it can be practiced over and over until we get better at it.

This year was different. Of her own accord, Annike made the most precious compilation of themed animal books to give as gifts. There was a book about rain forest animals, aquarium animals, baby animals, alphabetic animals, swamp animals, zoo animals, and a few more. Each contained pages and pages of colorful drawings. Each made with careful attention to detail. Many included narration.

She was excited to wrap them all on her own. On Christmas morning, instead of running to her stocking or the first present she planned to open, Annike raced to find these presents she had so carefully wrapped herself and placed under the tree. She couldn't wait to give these gifts to their recipients. Joy overcame her as the giver of good gifts.

I felt so proud, and so hopeful as I watched her. Once in a while all of those things I keep repeating over and over until even I am not listening to the sound of my own voice, get through to the heart. For once I didn't have to remind her with a gentle prod and a false smile that it is fun to give... because she already knew.

Belated Merry Christmas!

(This was the best gift that came in my stocking!)

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