Ask for Hope

By Ian Anderson

Ian_ColumnThis year I will celebrate my 35th Christmas, and because the holidays are generally for remembering, I have been thinking back on the more memorable Christmases in my life.

I’ve been trying to remember certain gifts that stick out, and not many come to mind. Polar Bear, that puppy my parents just loved and loved, is one gift I will never forget.

The other Christmas that jumps out in front of the others was the year I got a bike and an Atari handheld gaming system, which was stolen a few weeks later.

Maybe the anticipation is what I remember the most.

Year after year of the morning Christmas scene — yes, that’s really what remains. That feeling in the gut that says, this year, this year will be the one I won’t ever forget because I’ll get the gift of all gifts. And then the wrapping is all over the floor, and I’m sweating in my footie pajamas, and I can’t eat another bite of beef jerky, and everyone’s breath is a bit too close . . .

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but it did.

Sometime in the last ten years or so, I stopped feeling the deep anticipation for gifts on Christmas Day. Maybe it was the knowledge that no previous gift had ever lived up to the billing; maybe it was that I couldn’t bring myself to ask for puppies anymore.

Maybe it’s neither.

I’ve begun to think that the anticipation of watching my boys receive is greater than waiting for my own gifts.

In fact, it is better to see those little ones light up in front of the tree than to manufacture my own joy.

Yet, they don’t always like what we give as much as we think they will — or at least for not as long as we want them to.

There’s really only one thing left. That is, to remember what we’re actually meant to remember.

We’re used to the idea now, but back then, who really anticipated the manger? Didn’t those three kings of the East look where anyone with a mind would look first?

The gift that was a secret, was revealed then despised, is either the best gift ever given or another holiday bust.

So, which is it?

I can tell you this: my Christmas anticipation for the morning scene has been transformed into hope.

Christmas is now a reminder that I can’t get or buy anything close to what was given to us so long ago. It won’t matter if my children cry when the gifts are done because I know, and I’ll tell them over and over if I have to, that we’ve had the best already.

All we have to do is ask for it — for Him.

This Christmas we can either seek gifts for ourselves or others from stores, or we can remember to seek out the One gift who still gives.

Ask for that gift to be revealed to you this Christmas.

Ian Anderson is a teacher, a husband, and a dad. He lives with his family in Central Kansas. Occasionally, he tweets here: @ian_writes.

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