What I’ve Got

Ask For What You Want For Christmas, But Don’t Expect To Get It!

Ed, my neighbor next door, has decided that there is a big problem with Christmas today. According to my neighbor, when he was a kid you never knew what you would get as a Christmas gift. Yes, he did make a list of what he wanted for Christmas, but he knew that what he wanted didn’t mean he would get it. There was no sense of entitlement that he would get what he requested. His parents decided what gifts were too expensive, and what presents he should or shouldn’t have. In spite of these circumstances, Christmas never failed to bring great excitement and joy. Christmas presents were truly a surprise and a celebration of what you got, rather than, caring about what you wanted to get. He claims that they didn’t often get what they asked to get as a gift. It saddened Ed that his grandchildren only know of getting the gifts they have requested.

I challenged Ed that probably kids today don’t always get the presents that they ask to receive. I said that likely parents still set a limit on what is too expensive for a gift, but Ed said that I was out of touch with today. I conceded that I had heard that before about other things. I think that Ed had a wonderful Christmas in his childhood, because his Christmas was a celebration of what he got rather than caring about the gifts he had asked to receive.

The Christmas Season does spotlight who is grateful and who isn’t. From a Christian perspective, we celebrate God’s gift to us, His Son. God’s Son, Jesus Christ was born among us to accomplish the forgiveness of our sins and our reconciliation with God. Thanks to Jesus, we do have forgiveness of our sins, and reconciliation with God. It was a gift that cost Jesus everything, his life and death and resurrection for our benefit. Christian gratitude at Christmas is, ‘happiness doubled by wonder,’ in the words of G. K. Chesterton.

For many, Christmas is about giving and receiving gifts. Gifts given and received do not necessarily bring about happiness or joy. Frank A. Clark has wisely said, “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he gets.” Being grateful does not come to people naturally or easily. Aldous Huxley points out, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

Researchers have proven an attitude of gratitude or consistent gratefulness, can achieve powerful physical change in a person’s body; by amplifying one’s energy, increasing intelligence and decreasing depression and anxiety. An attitude of gratitude reflects God’s word in the Bible that instructs us to give thanks in all circumstances. Can you always be thankful for everything
that happens? Yes, bad, sad, ugly and awful stuff happens to everyone. There are no shortcuts or easy answers to having an attitude of gratitude when life stinks.

Gratitude is always a choice beyond what life has handed us. When wrong is there, the
secret is finding something right no matter how small. Consistent gratefulness grows if we recognize we are not entitled to anything or everything we want.

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Raymond Maher
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