Last night I did something I never do this late in the season…I went Christmas shopping. I take pride in the fact that I’m done shopping weeks before Christmas day arrives. I’m not knocking those who shop that close to Christmas. I just know myself and I’m not a cheerful shopper when among the masses. And I really hate standing in lines, so I try to stay away from the stores when Christmas is this close.
However, due to circumstances that could not be avoided, I was one gift short for my nephew. So I braved Target, found the gift and left the store with a cart full of groceries and other necessities… only to arrive home and realize that the gift I picked out for my nephew was not in my possession. And here’s the funny (but not funny at the time) part. When I looked at my receipt, it became clear that I did not even purchase the gift!!
To say I was frustrated is an understatement. You can imagine the steam rising off me at this point as my husband laughs and asks, “Are you sure you picked out a gift?”
He almost got slapped…
Finally I realized what happened. The lady in front of me had the conveyer belt 95% full. So I loaded what I could onto the remaining 5% and put my nephew’s gift on the sliver part….the part that doesn’t move. Now here’s what gets me. There were PLENTY of people behind me. I would like to think that one of them would have said, “Hey, is this yours?” After all, everyone’s eyes are on that belt as they all anxiously wait to unload their items! And keep in mind, this one toy is the ONLY reason I went to Target in the first place!!
So with a pout and stomp, I make a trip back to my not-so-favorite-place-right-now, and my gift has either been purchased by someone else who waited in that line (you’re welcome if that was you) or it’s already been shuffled back to the toy section by an employee. Either scenario, I made my way to the back of the store, found my chosen item, and waited in another line.
While I lingered in line, it dawned on me that I had only purchased two stocking stuffers for Gideon and many more for Laynie. As I stood in line thinking about what I could get for my legally blind & partially deaf son, I remembered Gideon’s therapist telling me she got a lot of their vision therapy toys at the dollar store. So since I was out and about anyways, I made a trip to the place where everything is a dollar.
Since Gideon has light perception, I found a light up disco ball and a red police light (the kind that was manually placed on police cars back in the old days). I also found some light up toys that were soft…which is important, since my son hits himself with every object he holds. There were lots of great things for the visually impaired, but I couldn’t find anything that worked for his auditory impairment. And then I remembered a conversation my sister and dad jokingly had about dog toys. Those toys are usually loud AND soft! So with no luck in the toy section, I reluctantly made my way to the pet aisle.
Now let’s be clear about one thing. Spending $1 on a Christmas toy doesn’t bother me. As long as the child who receives it enjoys it… price doesn’t matter. What bothered me as I stood for what seemed like hours in front of these pet toys is that they were made & intended for animals. And my son is obviously not an animal.
With an unenthusiastic heart, I purchased several dog toys, thanked the cashier, and cried the whole way home. Looking back, I’m not even sure what I was so upset about. Maybe it was the fact that my son deserves better than dog toys. Maybe it was the knowledge that buying gifts for him to enjoy will always remind me that he’s different than other kids. Or maybe it was the reality that Gideon’s diagnosis is real. No matter the reason for tears, the unfortunate truth is that Gideon’s experience of Christmas will always be different from other children’s experience.
I guess I’m learning that Christmas, like every other holiday season, will always require thinking outside the box. And you know what? That’s ok. In fact, that loud-squeaky-lamb-looking dog toy will probably be his most favorite item to play with for two reasons. 1- It won’t hurt him when he bangs himself with it; and 2- He’ll hear it…and so will the rest of our neighborhood.
“So what’s the big lesson here?” I asked God as I laid myself down to sleep last night. While I didn’t get an audible answer, I believe He brought this question to my mind…
“Do you think baby Jesus enjoyed the gold, frankincense and myrrh on His first Christmas?”
As a former teacher, I’m guilty of answering questions with more questions. Doing so provokes further thought and self discovery. I believe God did just that for me.
As I thought about baby Jesus on that first Christmas, I imagine he just enjoyed what every baby enjoys… being loved, held, fed, and changed. He didn’t care about the gold, frankincense and myrrh; he just loved being with his mom and dad. It’s not really that profound when you think about it. We all know this but Christmas is about being with the ones you love and celebrating the One who forever changed the course of our eternity.
So as tomorrow approaches remember this- the toys and gifts we stressed about shopping for will probably be dusty & forgotten, exchanged or tossed in the trash. But more than 2000 years ago, God gave us a gift that will never be forgotten, nor will we ever need to exchange or toss it. If we can keep in mind we’re celebrating HIM and not us, then the fact that I bought my 11 month old son a dog toy doesn’t matter. It’s the love we share that counts.
So with that thought in mind, I hope you’ll join me & put all the Christmas shopping stress behind you. I hope your Christmas day is full of love, laughter, and Jesus. What better gift can we share than Him?
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16