The eve of Christmas eve! I just heard the news report that any gifts bought today will not make it in time for Christmas morning. That was quite a sobering final reality to wake up to. I’ve been finished shopping for weeks and now, all of a sudden, when I heard that I felt a surge of panic rise up within the depths of my being. I thought maybe I needed to rush out and get “just one more thing for everyone.” Every year I have this conflicted battle in my head to relax in the completion of the preparation, or to rush out into the Christmas mayhem and get just one more gift. My shopping was done, we had our family picture made, I’d sent my cards, wrapped all the gifts, baked holiday treats, gone to parties, and decorated the house. Check, check and check! We were ready. So why did I still feel a restlessness within like I need to be doing something else. So ominous is the thought of the holidays!! Where was all this pressure coming from? Myself? Others? TV? Afterall, wasn’t Christmas all about the birth of a tiny baby in a small stable born into a much smaller world? The story is simple but also almost too big to take in. The complexity of the simple…..Jesus!
When my sister and I were younger and together at Christmas we were both enablers in a very serious addiction called last-minute shopping! On this very day in the years long past, we would look at each other with knowing eyes that said without words, “Target?” “Yes, I’ll get the car keys.” We snuck out the back door so we wouldn’t have to take our kids. We told our husbands it was daddy time and we’d be “right back.” We all know that when a mom says those words it really means at least an hour, but somehow saying, “we’ll be right back” seemed to communicate everything was under control. We both felt the need to rush out and get just one more thing for everyone. So we fought our way through the traffic, the weather, the throngs of panic-stricken women doing the same thing we were doing – getting just one last thing. Hours later, we made it back to the car without too much psychological damage. Maybe someone else can understand what I’m saying. It is quite humbling to admit this – so I decided if I’m confessing this shopping addiction then I was dragging my sister under the Christmas bus with me. After a moment of repentance I decided I’d better take the hit because I was, afterall, the big sister and she was just following my lead. She’s my little hero! We returned and we brought in these last minute presents, wrapped and placed them under the tree along with the other mountain of gifts. They were lost in the sea of red and green. It was amusingly obvious we didn’t need Just one more thing at all. It was too much! We needed to be at the house by the tree with our families soaking in the fleeting moments that would rush past us before we were ready for them to go. That was our gift…our “just one more thing.”
Our daughters Sarah and Rachel are actually more like sisters. They are very close to the same age. They are both married and have their own little households. They are both wise and mature well beyond their years. Back in the fall, Rachel sat me down back for a big talk. She asked me just to get one Christmas gift for each of them from now on. No more piles of gifts and 15 dessert choices for dinner. Simplicity! I swallowed hard knowing this was the right way, none of us actually needed anything. I’ll be honest though, it made me a little sad. I liked to shop and buy lots of cute things for them and now, especially, our grand-babies. Why did this overwhelm me so much? Was I that materialistic? I’m thinking the only logical answer would be, yes!
My sis Gina texted me a few months ago and said she was Christmas shopping. She had texted her oldest daughter, Sarah, with a photo of some possible purchases. She said, “Sarah should I get this?” Sarah’s reply was exactly Rachel’s words to me, “NO MOM, you don’t need that … no one needs that! Put it all back… now step slowly away from the cart…walk out the door… go straight to your car…drive home…do not make any stops.” As Gina shared this with me we both laughed at the simplicity, wisdom and clarity of our precious daughters’ world. When Gina and I were young mothers I believe we made it harder than it had to be. We felt it was our job to hunt down the best bargains and believed we were actually saving money by being such good shoppers. But really it was just more things, cute clothes, frilly dresses, massive hair bows, toys containing a million pieces to assemble. Every wall of our house was covered, unable to breathe from behind the huge, elaborately framed, triple matted, scripture-inspired picture of a deer drinking from a stream. We had big cars, big clothes, blue eyeshadow and even bigger hair. We grew up in a very self indulging generation. The saddest part is, I wasn’t completely aware of this until much later.
God has used my kids to help me grow out of “Just one more thing” thinking. I’m letting go of the stuff. I don’t want to live alone anymore inside the red and green walls that I myself created. I’m unwrapping and flinging tissue paper in the air, shaking myself loose from bags, boxes, bows, tags and tape. I’m going to soak in the joy of my family, watching them share, smile and laugh at this life we all find ourselves muddling around in together. What a ride! I’m so proud of our kids and their insight into truth. Even as complex as our world is they have managed to scrape off the fluffy beaten egg whites called meringue sitting stiffly and haughty on top of the real treat, the pie. That white fluff was tasteless and useless, somebody scrape that off so we can eat that pie! I don’t fully understand why but It seems strangely simpler for them. I’ve been lugging around all kinds of things I thought were necessary, lots of meringue fluff…and then even adding Just one more thing. I’m following my kids lead. Simplicity. Our kids ask me- “what do you want for Christmas Mom?” I always say “just to be together.” That is what I asked my Mama, and she would give me the same answer with a knowing smile. I would roll my eyes and say, “Well, that doesn’t help me at all.” With each passing year I see more clearly the value of Just one more thing– only now it isn’t something I get at target at 4:00am. It’s much more rare and priceless….Just a little more Jesus Please. That honestly about wraps it up!
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). I am taking these verses into my soul right now. “My purpose is that they be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3
If you feel like you need just one more thing, take one thing you already have and give it to someone who doesn’t have anything.