Monday, December 20, 2004

Patience. It's the gift that any father - attempting to raise one-year-old triplets and a six-year-old and keep a household together - would want a little more of for Christmas and the new year. Ask my wife, children and my siblings; I'm sure they would tell you that I've been in a little short supply of it this season. So it would only make sense when asking myself what I would really like for Christmas, the answer would simply be patience; especially patience with myself. And it's this gift I prayed for this season and beyond this season. Now, let me step back for a moment...

Allow me to first share with you my personal thought on Christmas gifts. They tend to fall into two categories: (1) the gifts we want and (2) the gifts we need. As children, we would easily define toys, candy, cars, dolls, etc. in category 1 - gifts from Santa. As children, we would easily define sweaters, any type of clothing, shoes, socks, jackets, savings bonds, etc. as those falling in category 2 - gifts from parents. And these categories prevail as adults as well...

And here's my personal perspective: Any and all gifts we exchange with one another, the material gifts of this world, are those that will always fall into category 1; the gifts we want. The remainder of our life, full of its circumstances, coincidences, wisdom and experience, and heavenly "nudges," are those that fall into category 2; the gifts we need - from our Almighty Parent. And in my case, it is the gift of patience.

This season I was lucky enough to receive my gift early. It came in the form of:

  • congested traffic on the way to taking my son to school each morning
  • a woman who almost backed into me (personally) in a parking lot and then swore at me
  • a never-ending line of complaining customers at my favorite coffee shop each morning
  • a frenzy of family and the noise that accompanies it around our household
  • projects, packages and chores to complete amidst the pattering of needy triplets
  • a very excited and over-enthusiastic six-year-old bouncing off the walls for Christmas

In each of these instances (and many more, too numerous to mention), it called for me to pull out my shiny new gift of patience, try it on and see how it fits and looks. But, sad to say, in most of these instances I forgot to take it out of its box. You see, my friend, the Almighty will always give us the gifts we need, but with those gifts will also come plenty of instances for us to try out our new gift. Think of it as the batteries that are included with the action toy - it's what makes the toy operational. Now that's a Parent who is thinking.

So, sit on down on the Almighty Santa's lap. What is it that you would like this season? Tell Santa; Santa will listen to your entire list. All done? Now, listen to Santa quietly whisper in your ear what will be brought to you - that special gift that you need; complete with all the occasions in which to wear it.


Post Note: In our home, it has become tradition to have two Christmas trees (due to accumulated trees over the years as a family). There is the smaller seven-foot artificial tree with all the collected Hallmark and novelty ornaments from days and travels gone by. We refer to it as the "kids' tree" and it's under and around this tree we place our presents for the season.

Not far from this tree is our twelve-foot artificial tree we refer to as the "family tree." It is decorated with only white lights and occasional red ribbons. A few days prior to Christmas, we place individual simple red bulbs on the tree - each bulb designated for an individual who is in need of special prayers and thoughts during this season and beyond. Under this tree is a simple lighted Nativity statue of Mary, Joseph and Jesus - a reminder that the most important gifts of our life begin here, at the foot of this tree.

It is all a reminder to me that there is more than enough room in our Christmas for the gifts we want, and more importantly, the gifts we need. And it is my prayer, my friend, that you will receive the gift you are most in need of this season and beyond.

hoedl's haven
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