The Gift of Time — An Advent Meditation

NativitySaturday night we were trying to do something meaningful with our granddaughter, who is almost two. This is the first Christmas she may possibly remember, and we’re emphasizing Jesus’ birthday all we can. Hearing of a Living Nativity being put on by a local church, we set off tonight to experience it together.

It was a half hour drive, but Lucy had taken a late nap so we weren’t concerned.  She was getting cranky by the time the church came in sight.  Then we turned the corner to access the parking lot…and saw the line of cars coming from the other direction, who were waiting to turn right into the lot.  The policeman with a light stick waved us on past, and we drove by, looking for the end of the line. We found it…a mile away.

So much for the Living Nativity.

IMG_2042We drove a couple of miles back toward home and stopped at a fast food place which has a play-land for kids. Lucy instantly made friends with a three-year-old girl and went down the curly slide with her over and over again. A hamburger & fries with ketchup completed her happiness. We cheered her on, and gave her a boost up onto the climbing shelves. Did it matter that we didn’t go where we’d planned? That we didn’t do what we’d talked about?

Not to Lucy it didn’t.

I happened to get a call from my brother (JTR) in the midst of this, and he reminded me of all the times that our mom had an “agenda” for some special Christmas event, but we were just as happy taking a drive to look at decorations, or sitting in front of the fireplace with popcorn and hot cocoa watching a Christmas movie, or (best of all) playing a board game as a family, laughing uproariously the entire time.

Did I say “just as happy”? What I meant was infinitely happier. Because those are some of my most cherished memories; those are the times that still make me smile, no matter the season.

Wonderful as the various holiday offerings are, and they are myriad, none of them can replace quality time spent together as a family. That often costs nothing at all in money, but it’s priceless for building memories, love, trust and joy.  It’s the reason that our theater company will never do a major production in December (our Christmas show this year was performed the first two weekends in November).  It’s the reason we don’t fight the crowds at the mall and stand in line with a cranky toddler in order to have a photo op with “Santa”.  I talked to two moms today who admitted that their children don’t like sitting on Santa’s lap and usually cry.  “So why do you do it?” I think to myself, but bite my tongue.

There are a half dozen theaters in the area performing Christmas-themed plays in the next couple of weeks, plus church and school holiday concerts, a Living Christmas Tree, Philharmonic Holiday Pops,  several Messiah sings, two ballet companies doing The Nutcracker, a Gingerbread Festival, special Christmas displays at conservatory, museum and shopping mall, a “Celebration Tree” sound-&-light show at another shopping center…and we’re living in a smallish city!

What’s my point?

We complain with Charlie Brown that Christmas is “too commercial”…yet we Christians consume holiday events at a tremendous rate, too: we stand in lines, and fight traffic, and spend too much on tickets, and spend too much time in rehearsals, …and then the season is over. It’s over, and we’re exhausted. It’s over, and still we wonder (as we almost certainly did last year) where the “magic of Christmas” went.

I’m as guilty as anyone of not being able to see the forest for the Christmas trees.

Is it too late for all of us this year? Is it too late to challenge ourselves to forego some of our planned activity in favor of staying home, choosing instead to simply enjoy each other’s company? Rather than trying to create a Christmas memory, why don’t we elect to simply read a book out loud, or play a game, or even just retell some stories from our childhood to our kids and grand-kids?

Perhaps this year, we should try giving the gift of time, rather than regretting that we don’t seem to have quite enough of it.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”   Psalm 46:9-11

10 responses to “The Gift of Time — An Advent Meditation

  1. Yes, you had a good idea, but your little grandchild is too young. The ride itself would have done me in, let alone sitting and watching the nativity. Although I would have been amazed at the people acting. It always captivates me to watch the actors. I know you want your grandchild to know about God. Get a little nativity set for kids at the store and tell her who they are. They even make them sturdy so the children can play with them. Read books to her and hopefully take her next year when she’s a little older. Telling your grandchildren about God will always be a part of your life so keep up the good work. God Bless and Merry Christmas!

  2. Actually, Sis, I smile when I just THINK about Ma and all of her grand plans for us every year: nativity scenes, plays, musicals, “winter festivals”, the elusive hayride, and on and on….

    And when we would plead with her, “please, can’t we just stay in, throw on a Christmas album and play a game?”, her inevitable groan STILL makes me laugh out loud.


  3. Great meditation for Advent! And what wonderful planning your theater company does! Smart! I have always tried to make Christmas so special to my family and I have driven myself crazy!
    Now, at this age, with 3 grandchildren in their teens, my daughter has the holiday meal. My grandkids have put their ‘wish lists’ on Amazon and the Christmas gifts are bought, mostly online and delivered to my door. I plan to bake some favorite German cookies and my husband’s favorite fruit cake. But I take it much easier now and actully enjoy this time of year. Oh, it’s my birthday too so my family always has a cake on Christmas:
    Happy brithday Jesus!♡
    …and Memaw.
    It’s still very special.
    I love Christmas!

    • Isn’t it nice to be older and wiser? I used a program called Send Out Cards to do my Christmas cards this year…everyone got several pictures of Lucy, our annual letter and a pretty card, and it was all on one piece. Huge time savings for me, and no mess all over the dining room table for days!
      You’re a Christmas baby! That is VERY special. May you have a blessed season of celebration with your family!

  4. I was in a “living” Nativity a few times — such fun. Not we’re almost arrested for say “Christmas”. I heard a commercial where they said “Merry KRINGLE”?!! geeez. Evil is overtaking the country… come quickly Lord.

    • “Merry KRINGLE”???!! I guess that’s why I don’t watch TV. Did you hear about the California nursing home that ordered the residents’ Christmas tree taken down? Still waiting to hear the upshot of that one. I hope it was a stupid mistake, and not a precedent. Indeed we live in evil days. But we are still exhorted to redeem the time!! May you enjoy a redemptive Christmas season with your family. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  5. Yes, “merry kringle” – I assume so not to OFFEND the easily offendable who can’t bare to hear Christmas! I hear they got their tree. Must have been some crank there that didn’t want it… and it’s not even a “religious” symbol, for crimany sakes!
    Merry Christmas to all and to all . . . praise the Lord for His redeeming Gift.

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