Christmas Joy All Year
By Kay Camenisch
Erma Bombeck, an American author and humorist, once said, “There’s nothing sadder than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.” I’m sure that when she said that, she was thinking of the joy and wonder of a child opening presents on Christmas morning. I experienced such a Christmas in the second grade.
It was the year I wanted a baby doll. My sister and I usually got similar gifts. Generally, she’d get a doll with brown hair and I’d get an identical doll, except mine would have blond hair and blue eyes to match my coloring. The year that stands out in my memory, Jean wanted a bride doll, but with all my heart I wanted a doll that was like a real baby. My excitement about Christmas morning was tempered by concern about what kind of doll I would find under the tree.
I was the first one awake on Christmas morning. In the quiet, I could almost hear my own heartbeat as I tiptoed down the hall and peeped around the corner.
There she was! Sitting under the tip of a tree branch was the sweetest baby doll you ever saw. She wore soft, cuddly pink pajamas that begged for a hug. A little matching bonnet covered her smooth head and the light brown hair painted on it. A baby bottle was fastened to her right wrist with a tiny rubber band. Her left fingers wrapped around a pink rattle, which was also secured with a rubber band.
I gazed in frozen wonder before moving in to touch. My fingers tingled as I reached and gently touched her stomach. Sure enough, her skin was soft and flexible, good for cuddling. She was perfect—like a real baby—not hard and stiff like some dolls.
I’m sure Erma Bombeck was thinking of such precious moments when she made her comment. But, the wonder and joy doesn’t have to stop when we grow up. I recall the Christmas I went to Brazil to meet my husband’s family. His parents had sent a list of things to buy for his brothers’ gifts. We carried engines and such to fly model airplanes.
I knew they would be thrilled, and I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed watching them more than I did opening my own gifts. I’d never had so much fun around the tree. Later I experienced the same anticipation and excitement as our children opened their presents. Since they are grown and live in other states, Christmas is a bit quiet around our house, but I’ve learned that the Christmas season doesn’t have to be dull, even without children around.
The wonder and joy I experienced when I found Susie under the tree was a self-centered joy of having my dream fulfilled. There is nothing wrong with that. However, part of maturing is growing out of our self-centeredness. As we mature, we learn to rejoice with those around us and share their joy.
There is even greater joy and wonder to be the one that brings joy to others. I can imagine that my parents were overflowing as they watched me with Susie. It really “is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). If we want more joy at Christmas, it’s amazingly simple. All we have to do is give more joy to others.
The late American newscaster Eric Sevareid seemed to understand our need to give to others. He said, “There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.”
Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38). The truth applies all year long, but maybe Sevareid is right. Maybe it is a good thing we have one day a year that encourages us to practice it. Maybe seeing it prove true in December will encourage us to put it into practice all year long.
May your Christmas and New Year be filled with joy!
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Kay W. Camenisch has written a Bible study, Uprooting Anger: Destroying the Monster Within, to help believers overcome the bondage of anger (www.uprootinganger.com). She has been published in The Upper Room and The Lookout. Contemporary Drama has published one of her plays, and she is a regular contributor to a newspaper column. Kay is also a pastor’s wife, mother, and grandmother. She has worked closely in ministry with her husband, including in local churches, as missionaries in Brazil, working with a church school, training young adults to mentor troubled youth, and establishing and directing a ranch for troubled young men. Visit Kay's website
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