My best gifts aren’t the packages under the tree, they’re the ones gathered around the tree.
Posted in , Dec 18, 2015
I think the only thing more special than having children at Christmas is having grandchildren. Don’t get me wrong. I have precious memories of the years when my sons were little guys, but this is a chance for a second set of cherished memories. And now, with the beauty of hindsight, I know how quickly those years zoom by so I’m squeezing the sweetness from every moment. My grandchildren are aged six years to 18-months, so Christmas is a time of great excitement.
I loved the moment when three-year-old Ethan walked into our family room and yelled back to his cousins and siblings, “Grandmama’s got presents under the tree!” Then everybody had to know which gifts were theirs. Such sweet faces as we looked at the packages.
I loved the look of wonder on little Nolan’s face as he looked at my lit-up Christmas village scene, his tiny fingers feeling the snow on the table.
While we had dinner, three-year-old Eden told her mama, “Grandmama told us about when we were bears.” After some puzzlement, I realized she was talking about the bear tree in our foyer. It’s decorated with the bears that belonged to my sons while they were growing up, bears we bought on family vacations, and bears to represent all the grandchildren.
A week or so earlier when the grandbabies were at the house, I’d shown them bears on the tree, telling them, “This one belonged to your daddy. Here’s the bear Uncle Tim got when he graduated from kindergarten….” I showed them their personal bears and then I pulled a special bear from the tree. This one is holding a Bible and tucked behind that tiny Bible is a folded piece of paper I put there many years ago, a prayer request asking God to send children to two of our sons and daughters-in-law who’d been told the odds weren’t good for them to be parents. I choked back tears as I hugged each grandchild, telling them, “You are the answers to those prayers.”
Carrying on a tradition that began with their daddies when they were young, everyone came to our house to bake cookies earlier this week. We made peanut blossoms—peanut butter cookies with a Hershey Kiss on top. The rolled balls of dough were misshapen and every size under the sun, but the little ones had a great time. Somehow, a lot more Hershey Kisses were consumed than what went on the cookies. I’ve laughed for a couple of days at the odd places I’ve found the wrappings from the candies.
But, oh my, how precious it is to make memories together, soaking in the sound of their laughter, surrounded by little ones perched on chairs and the kitchen island. I loved that 18-month-old Nolan was even into making the cookies. After watching the others help mix the dough, he wanted a turn. It melted my heart as he put his little hand on the top of the mixer to help me. And then he’d “roll” his piece of dough, throw it onto the cookie sheet and then clap his hands as if he’d accomplished a great task. Moments in time captured forever in my heart.
But today my favorite time to be with my children and grandchildren is almost here: Christmas Eve. It’s a night when we begin our family time by reading the Christmas story, using the nativity set, with each of the children moving the figures into the stable as the story is read.
And then before we open gifts, we all get on our knees and each person prays, thanking God for His amazing gift of a babe in a manger, and thanking Him for all He’s blessed us with this year. I’ll be honest, I usually peek during the prayer, soaking in the amazing blessing of a family who loves God. You see, my best gifts aren’t the packages under the tree, they’re the ones gathered around the tree.
So from the Cox household to yours, Merry Christmas. I hope that all of you have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of a Savior.