The holiday season brings with it the memories of past Christmases. One of my best memories of Christmas is when my son was 4 years old (he is now 22). We had gone to the hair salon to get my haircut two days before Christmas. Izaac was playing on the floor in the waiting area as my friend Fran was cutting my hair. All the hairstylist and customers were talking and buzzing about preparations for the holiday when in walked, would you believe, Santa Claus? There he stood in the door, in his flannel shirt and blue jeans, wondering if someone there could take a few inches off his long white beard and hair. Apparently, he wanted to get cleaned up for his big day coming in just two days away. I looked to see Izaac staring up at Santa from the floor, his mouth open in wonder.
As Santa sat down to wait his turn, Izaac looked at me, asking with his eyes if it was okay to talk with Santa. I gave a nod. Before Santa or I knew it, Izaac was up in his lap. The man, familiar with his role, greeted Izaac and asked him if he had been a good boy. Izaac looked at me again. Again, I nodded. Izaac answered that, yes, he had been a good boy. And then came the familiar question—what do you want for Christmas this year? Izaac listed a few familiar things and then said he wanted a pair of roller skates. Roller skates? That was the first I had heard of roller skates! With only two days left until Christmas how on earth was there going to be enough time to find roller skates? Fran could see the panic in my face. Is this news to you? she asked. I slowly nodded, once again.
On Christmas morning, Izaac and I enjoyed opening presents and playing with our new things. I could see he was holding back his disappointment. Santa had not brought the roller skates. In the afternoon, we prepared to leave our house on our way to go to the church for Christmas dinner. When I opened the door, to our delighted surprise, a pair of roller skates sat waiting for us! Izaac beamed, his belief, and indeed mine, secure in the reality of Santa.
During the holidays, the message seems to be that it is the presents one buys (we must shop, shop, shop) that will bring happiness and joy. But there is another message, not as flashy, not as loud, not as well advertised floating around out there. It quietly permeates the holiday season. The message is this, the best gifts are those that come out of love. A simple message, yes. Even a familiar, message. Beautiful, most definitely. And yet, one so easily unheard. Love.
But not just love, as powerful as that is. It is persisting in love. Persisting in love however dark and chilly it may seem. Persisting in love through heartache or anger. Persisting in love when forgiveness seems out of the question. Persisting in love through hurt, through loneliness, through insecurity, through rejection. Persisting, even when things seem hopeless.
Persisting in love. May this be your blessing this holiday season and throughout all the year.