Anyone who has had small children has had the experience of sacrificing and stretching to give a child something really special, and then being disappointed in the response. Sometimes the greed aroused by getting more and more possessions brings out the worst in children, and they fight over their new toys or get jealous of their brothers and sisters. Sometimes they are so disappointed over something they wanted and didn't get that they can't enjoy what they did get. Sometimes they don't realize the value of gifts and the thing we worked so hard to give is cast aside while they play with some bauble. Sometimes they are so engrossed in the toys they aren't interested in talking to us, let alone thanking us. Sometimes they are simply so tired with all the activity and pressure of the season that they can't respond to anything.
We adults are not much different, even though we should know better. Christmas celebrates the greatest gift ever given. God loves us so much that He gave His only Son for us. In the most wondrous event of history He became a human being without ceasing to be God. Yet even we who know this and believe it hardly think about this gift, we are so distracted by other things.
We say, 'I can't enjoy Christmas any more' because all the activity tires us out, or because its a financial strain. (The gift we really wanted was money).
Perhaps we can't enjoy Christmas because we want so badly for it to be a happy family time and instead our family always quarrels and disappoints us, or we are alone. But our Lord knows this is the way of earthly ties, and that's why came to earth, to give us a new family that will never fail us: 'Whoever does the will of my father is my brother, my sister, my mother.'
Perhaps Christmas is a sad time for us because it was at Christmas that someone we love died. Even this must not prevent Christians from rejoicing because the One who is born for us is the One who breaks down the gates of death and opens the graves; 'He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more' (Rev. 21:4).
Let us not be childish, ignoring the precious gift we have been given to fret about the lesser things we don't have. Instead let us run to our Lord and kiss Him with tears of gratitude, because He loved us so much that He gave us the gift that cost Him everything.
© 1986 Father Paul Yerger