The real-life video showed various children filmed while writing down their Christmas lists to Santa. They eagerly shared their wishes: a new electronic gadget, an expensive doll and a swing set were among the many items. On the next scene, the interviewer asked them to write down a new list, but this time, the list would include what they wanted from mom and dad. The commercial continued with the children writing their Christmas wish letters to their parents. The 30-second powerful video closes as teary parents read their children’s heart’s desire. One by one, the wishes converged into one simple thought: “I wish you would spend more time with me.”
Time is a commodity that doesn’t cost money, and yet, it seems to be so very scarce these days, especially during the holidays. These are the days when houses that are not homes are filled with lights, in an attempt to hide the emptiness and darkness inside. These are the days when we rush to the malls, loading our shopping carts with items that are often superfluous and unwanted. These are the days when we fill our calendars with activities and parties. We serve, and give, and give some more. And at the end of the day, both God and our loved ones are often left with full hands and empty hearts. Why? Because we choose to give things, instead of giving ourselves. We may rationalize, saying that we don’t have time. We may convince ourselves that the new video game will make our child happy, or that beautiful diamond bracelet will fulfill our loved one’s deepest desire. We may think that God is satisfied with our busy December church activities in the name of Jesus. All along, if we could ask God and our loved ones what they really want for Christmas, they would echo the voices of the kids in that shrewd commercial: “I want more of you. More love and less service. More time and less stuff.”
I thought about that as I left my desk in the middle of the day earlier this week after accepting our 9-year old’s invitation to tea. Early that morning, she had asked me to play with her after school. I looked at my calendar and the deadline for two articles quickly approaching. I glanced at the Christmas gift list that sat without one single check mark on top of my desk. Whereas all reasoning and the ticking of the clock told me we should do it another day, I agreed to stop the clock and become her play date for one hour.
Her face beamed as she proudly displayed the treats that she put together. My fine china set awkwardly balanced on the tiny table as she poured the hot water with the zeal of an English lady at tea time. I looked at her, choking back the tears, as she shared stories about her friends from school; about Holly, our mischievous Christmas elf, and how she wondered whether there was a portal to the North Pole somewhere around the house. We laughed and hugged, sharing secrets and tea. I forgot the chores and the blank page on my computer screen, and simply stopped to love my child. The kitchen was a mess and the floors needed sweeping. But all was well. I know that the time I spend with my children and the memories we make will not be forgotten on the bottom of a closet as the next best toy will. It’s a gift that we will cherish for as long as we live. It’s the gift they really want, anyway.
Patricia Holbrook is a Christian author and national conference speaker. Her book, “Twelve Inches: Bridging the
Gap Between What You Know About God and How You Feel,” is available on Kindle, at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon and other retailers. Visit her website at www.soaringwithhim.com Email: pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com.
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