Jan and I have experienced 43 Christmas mornings together. After the birth of our two children, we created a Christmas morning family routine that has become a tradition. Jan and I get up early for coffee and Jan’s homemade cinnamon roles, a recipe given to her 40 years ago by our friend, Judy Thomas. Bing Crosby is singing White Christmas in the background. My dog is resting at my feet while Jan arranges the beautifully wrapped presents around the tree. Each Christmas morning I notice the lights on the tree are especially bright – brighter than the night before. Perhaps their brightness is the extra acuity we experience in special moments like a Christmas morning.
Even though our children are now adults they still join us on Christmas morning. This morning their arrival time is 8:00 a.m. The same hand-knitted stockings made by Grandma Parry in their early childhood hold the first of the small gifts Anna and David will open this morning. Each year for the last 40 years, Jan has placed a single orange at the bottom of their stocking as a yearly reminder of their grandfathers who received single oranges as their only Christmas gift during the Great Depression. We never want our children to live through the coming year without a reminder of true blessing.
In a few hours the kids will arrive. In all of their normal adultness will be seen a twinkle of childhood delight in their eyes that emerges each year when they begin to open their gifts. Their joy will remind Jan and me of Christmases past, and the hope of more to come. The mound of wrapping paper will begin to grow on the floor between us as gifts are opened with joy and stacked alongside each of us. Our dog, Abby, and our cat, Mister, will be found walking through the mountain range of paper sniffing, wagging and purring. When it is all over and the kids leave, it will be just Jan and me, again. It will be like it was at our first Christmas 43 years ago.
God has given each of us the hope of a good life. He gave that potential of goodness to every human, knowing sorrow and pain can visit our lives. No matter where you find yourself this morning, look for the goodness of God. It is always present. An expectant attitude opens our eyes to see differently the brightness of Christmas tree lights or the meaning of a single orange at the bottom of a Christmas stocking. The detours and sorrows experienced in the journey of our lives can never overpower the goodness that God has planned. Believe the best and the best will find you.