“Christmas inaugurates a new age, in which life is not planned, but given; in which one lives not for oneself, on the basis of one's own tastes, but for God, and with God, because from Christmas onwards God is God-with-us, Who lives with us, Who walks with us.”

Pope Francis

Ever since Mrs. G’s 4th grade White Elephant party, I have had a strong aversion to all “fun” gift exchange practices and, perhaps, I’ll admit it, to Christmas gift giving in general. You see, at that time, troll dolls were all the rage. I don’t remember why, but what I do remember is that I wanted one, and I wanted one bad. And for one fleeting moment, a troll doll was in my hands until it was snatched away ruthlessly from a classmate who will remain nameless. I remember crying and resolving never to participate in such a barbaric practice again.

Fast forward some three decades later and, when Black Friday came around this year, I treated myself to a few “to dad, from dad” gifts. As a few family members and friends inquired as to what I wanted for Christmas, I demurred as I usually do. My wife was particularly frustrated. As I sported a new sweater which I had bought, Tricia asked where it came from, and I told her it was a little gift to myself. “Couldn’t depend on anyone else to bring you a little joy this year?” she teased. Making a snarky face back, I knew she was right. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it, and I didn’t want to rely on anyone else who might order the wrong size or forget the gift receipt.

As I listened to the last Sunday of Advent’s readings, I couldn’t help but wonder whether my aversion to waiting on gifts from others crossed into other seasons of my life and leadership. Clarity of desire may seem like the gift that keeps on giving, but what amazing presents am I denying myself and others by putting too many parameters on my wish list or, worse yet, seeing myself as the only acceptable shopper? In my relationship with the Lord, can I wait on the timing of how He responds to my wish list, while also believing that the gifts He has in store may be more than I could have ever imagined? Regardless of my patience, can I accept my dependency on the Ultimate Gift Giver and acknowledge the white elephant in the room when my list of desires doesn’t match His?

I hope that Santa was good to you yesterday, but I know the Lord is better today and every day. Merry Christmas!

by Daniel Cellucci

December 26, 2022

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