I grew up in a ‘wake up first thing and open presents in your pjs’ kind of family.  My little brother and I rarely overslept.  Having the love language of gifts, my father (and therefore us) found great delight on Christmas day.

How could I forget the year my requested Barbie dream house sat next to the piano? Or the year we discovered two full-size go-carts in our living room?

One particular Christmas we sat around in pjs and disheveled hair. The frantic excitement had worn off and the reality of missed sleep kicked in.

That’s when my father walked around the couch picking up the pieces of paper discarded hastily in the unwrapping ritual.  I heard him say, “Well, what’s this bag doing here? It’s awfully heavy. Did Santa forget to put all the presents under the tree?”

My little brother and I shot right up, adrenaline pulsing back through our tired little bodies. “What? More presents? From Santa? Really?”.  Our chipper questions and Tigger-like bouncing brought a smile to my dad’s face. Off to the side, my college-age brother sat, “too cool” to be giddy over Santa’s bag.

My father reached inside the bag and handed me a reasonably large box. Ripping off the paper I saw the face of Samantha, an American Girl doll staring back at me. “Thank you, oh thank you! She is beautiful (in my memory I gushed gratitude).”

The reason that particular Christmas stood out was time and energy my dad put into the giving.  Not the expensive gifts, but the excitement and surprise of finding a gift behind the couch.

Advent, counting from Dec 1st to the 25th means more than remembering the day a Savior was born, the first gift.

Advent is a counting down to remembering He is coming again. The arrival of the tiny baby marked the start of the Church age. From Christ’s first coming until His second coming, we are in the middle of a time when our main purpose is to spread His good news.

“let us give our time, our strength, our money, our days to the mission distinctively committed to the Church, namely, to make the Lord Jesus Christ known ‘to every creature’!”~ C.I.Scofield

 Jesus came, died, & rose again. Then He sent us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, so we can tell others about His coming, dying and rising again.

Our main job living in this period of time is to keep living the good news and sharing the good news in anticipation of the greatest gift to come, eternal life with our risen Savior.

Because as great a gift of salvation and His first coming; the next big gift we receive is life forever in His presence. No more tears. Lions lying down with lambs. No more death.  No more brutal murders of innocent children. Just praising the King of all the Kings.

How will I spend this season of waiting for His second coming?

Will I be like Jovie in the movie “Elf” who responds to Buddy’s excitement over all things Christmas with, “I’m just trying to get through the holidays.”

Am I just trying to get through this life here on earth? I’ve already got my ticket to heaven so I’m just biding my time until I arrive on streets of gold?

Or am I as excited as Buddy to talk about my favorite things and to spread cheer?

Am I a “Buddy the Elf” believer or a “humbug” Christian?

My greatest Christmas memories were opening the presents that involved more time and skill to prepare.  Similarly the struggle and anticipation of time here on earth brings value to the gift of eternal life.

H. Clay Trumbull tells the story in“Hints on Child Training” book about a man who created a hunt for his nieces and nephews one Christmas morning.

They awoke to limp stockings and no box in sight. Upon further examination they found their stockings were not empty after all. Inside rested a little card attached to a little thread strung across the mantel. On the little card was a rhyme written by hand: “Follow this string throughout the house, wherever it goes-you will come to a pretty thing.”

“Every child stood holding a frail thread, wondering to what it would lead, and waiting the signal for a start.  At the word, all were off together…they led hither and thither, the children following, almost holding their breaths with the excitement of pursuit and expectation.”

Each string led back eventually to one great room. In the middle of the room were mammoth cardboard boots full of presents. And the children each sat by a boot and carefully opened one present at a time.

“It matters not, whether the home be one of abundance or close limitations, whether the gifts be many or few, costly or inexpensive…(You) must give (yourself) with (your) gifts, thus imitate and illustrate, in a degree, the love of Him who gave Himself to us.”

The greatest gift is yet to be opened for those believers here on earth. May you enjoy and treasure the anticipation of opening the gift, which is meant to satisfy all your longings.