This is natural, understandable and probably the best teaching moment of the whole season. As long as the beautifully wrapped gifts remain unopened and the celebrations still future, they appear to be the hope we are waiting for. But when all are opened and the merriment past, we sense we are still longing for something more, something lasting.
I had one of those teachable moments with my granddaughter, Hanna, yesterday. After opening gifts and eating a good meal, she was sitting on the stair in a rather pensive mood. I sat next to her to talk about what she was feeling. I’ve learned that children don’t know what is happening to their emotions or why, so I generally don’t ask the “Why?” question but rather explain the “What” to them.
I pointed out to Hanna that she was learning a lessons many grown-ups haven’t yet grasp:
1. Gifts and events can’t fill you soul. They are expressions of generosity but are not designed to satisfy. They’re designed to point us to the Giver.
2. Putting our hopes in gifts will leave us empty inside. We will ask, “Is that all?” because we know deep down that’s not all there is. We are designed to treasure a Person, not His things.
3. It is more blessed to give than receive. What makes you feel richer, getting the presents you wanted or making someone else happy with something you gave to them? A greedy heart lives in a small, lonely world. A generous heart lives in a wide world of love.
I hope she remembers some of grandpa’s sagged advice! I learned it from someone; I pass it along in hopes it helps others as much as it helps me.
It is just the way of God’s grace to let the glitter and flash of celebrations (even in His honor) pass and then even in the melancholic void they leave teach us once again, “It’s not I, but Christ.”