Many years ago our family arrived at my brother’s for Christmas. As a part of a cousin gift exchange we handed one of his children a gift. The child said thank you and tossed the still wrapped gift on the couch and ran off. I didn’t think much about it, because the child was young. It was a little odd that they weren’t interested in unwrapping their gift. We went our way and had a wonderful Christmas dinner and fabulous family time. I didn’t think much about it until my brother talked to me about it later. He and his wife had decided their children were getting too much for Christmas. They talked it over and vastly simplified their Christmas.
Since that time a variety of experiences have led me to ponder the importance of receiving. We say “it’s better to give than to receive.” I’m not so sure. I have much to learn about giving, but my life depends on how I receive. To be able to receive is powerful. We have all loved others who were incapable of receiving that love. It’s heartbreaking.
I have seen women who have given birth but not really received the baby. I have seen other women never give birth but receive babies into their homes.
I recently gave a meal to a homeless women. Watching her accept that meal and enjoy it, then going home to my own family and noticing their reactions to the same meal was thought provoking. How well do we receive?
We all have things we love to receive, a treat, a book, a kiss. Do I have things I don’t like to receive? How well do I receive help? It’s difficult to need other people. Having had surgeries, having been on bed rest, and having had babies, and miscarriages, I have needed help. It’s hard to me to receive help, specifically when I cannot work alongside the person helping me. How well do I really receive love? Do I receive compliments well? How about gifts when I cannot reciprocate? How well do I learn? With all of my to do lists at Christmas, will any of them help me learn how to receive?
Receiving involves making place. We’ve all had to make room for Christmas presents. Sometimes as a family we’ve had to rearrange furniture, give things away or clean more thoroughly. Am I making room for Christ? What will I have to give away?
Very young children receive so beautifully. My little toddler is still at the age at which she will drop anything she is carrying for what she wants. Her favorite doll, her blanket, a loved book, the toy of the day…all dropped immediately for a drink of milk. Her priorities are sometimes comical. Soon she will start to attempt balancing what she has while still receiving what I am offering. I wonder if my own priorities are any better than my daughter’s. Do I sometimes cling to things that keep me from having the place in my heart to receive Christ? Are there any Christmas traditions I should drop to make place for Christ? Are the gifts I’m giving preparing my heart to better receive Christ? Can the way I receive the love of my family and friends bring greater joy to my life?
I have heard stories and talks inviting us to give to Christ at Christmas. This has always struck me as very persuasive. We are celebrating His birth after all! I’ve talked with my children and appreciated their shocked looks as they consider the birthday boy may be receiving no presents. What we offer Christ is powerful; our lives, our hearts, our will. But all we offer Him is meaningless unless it prepares us to receive from Him. Can you imagine celebrating Christmas without receiving what the Savior has to offer? Do my Christmas celebrations prepare me to receive His life, His love and His grace?
With all our wonderful giving I hope throughout this beautiful Christmas season, we focus on receiving our Savior Jesus Christ.
Britt grew up in a family of six brothers and one sister and gained a bonus sister later. She camped in the High Sierras, canoed down the Colorado, and played volleyball at Brigham Young University. She then served a mission to South Africa. With all of her time in the gym and the mountains and South Africa, she was totally prepared to become the mother of 2 sons and soon to be 9 daughters. By totally prepared she means willing to love them and muddle through everything else in a partially sleepless state. She is mostly successful at figuring out how to keep the baby clothed, or at least diapered, though her current toddler is challenging this skill. She feels children naturally love to learn and didn’t want to disrupt childhood curiosity with worksheets and school bells. She loves to play in the dirt, read books, go on adventures, watch her children discover new things, and mentor her children. Her oldest child is currently at a community college and her oldest son is going to high school at a public school. She loves to follow her children in their unique paths and interests. She loves to write because, unlike the laundry and the dishes, writing stays done. Whenever someone asks her how she does it all she wonders what in the world they think she’s doing.