I don’t like opening gifts on Christmas Eve. When I hear of a family that has this tradition, I want to intervene and ask, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? What about the fun of waking up to all those unopened packages?” When I was a child, my family occasionally opened one gift before going to the Christmas Eve church service, but it was always an obviously boring package, like fruit or nuts from the neighbors.
That was fine by me. If I opened the good presents at night, what would I have to look forward to when I woke up on Christmas morning?
I am trying to see the other point of view. I don’t like the idea of opening gifts tonight, but there may be something to it. Certainly, it poses a healthy challenge for me. Christmas would not be a day for anticipating gifts. The excitement would come, instead, from appreciating the gifts I’d already received. I guess I might start reading the new book and imagining how its ideas will affect me. I could think about using that restaurant gift card to take a friend to dinner. I might observe my family doing the same with their gifts, and pray that they will find new joys and interests in the new year.
Thankfully, I’ll have time tomorrow to do both – anticipate and reflect, wait and receive – but only if I make the effort.
Appreciating the known gift is especially important at Christmas. THE Christmas gift arrived long ago, when God entered the world as a baby, when the creator of all possibility took on human limits to show us how we might have life, and have it more abundantly.
If I let the other gifts remind me of that one, it won’t matter when the wrapping paper comes off.
“How will I use this gift to live more abundantly?”
That question should keep me plenty busy, tomorrow, after opening presents in the morning, of course.
Emma Crossen is director for stewardship and development.