His eyes are the eyes of a thousand sleepless nights and I’ve never seen such shadows on a four-year-old boy. “Who is that?” I whisper to Trent while the children’s choir sings and the church is decked out in holly and ivy and Jesus in a manger.
“That’s one of the *Fritz boys,” he tells me, and I turn back to the boy with the tired eyes and I’m crying. He and his brothers and sisters lost their mama recently, and mothers make Christmas, and I want to run up front and pick them up and rock them happy. Forever.
So instead I turn to my boys and kiss their fat cheeks harder than I’ve ever kissed them and hold them until they squirm.
And I will wrap presents when I get home. For the boy with the tired eyes. Eyes that never close for searching for her, eyes that will never stop looking for his mother this side of heaven.
And then I will wrap gifts for my boys, too.
For I don’t know how long I have with them. And while I’m with them, I want to give them everything I can.
We give to others year-round. We do the World Vision thing every December, and the Operation Christmas Child boxes, and now my own non-profit, The Lulu Tree—sponsoring mamas in Uganda—but why would I give to someone overseas if I’m not going to give to those in my own home?
Why would I deprive my children the joy of opening a gift on Christmas morning?
I have friends who believe in giving up gifts for Christmas, and I truly believe these women have noble intentions.
Yet I fear we’re turning infants into martyrs. I fear we’re over-spiritualizing Christmas and missing the simple joy of tearing into paper and seeing the knowledge of being loved spread across a child’s face.
Yes, it is Jesus’ birthday. But Jesus is alive and well and living in our children, so by giving gifts to them, we are in fact, gifting Him, and he is the one who says, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)
We need not give many. We need only give a few, but in giving those few, we are delighting our children and teaching them the joy of receiving. So they, in turn, can be cheerful givers.
And so, I wrap. With trembling fingers. For the boy with the tired eyes, and for the boys God has given me.
For, come Christmas, we are all children in need of the greatest gift. Grace.
(*name changed for privacy reasons)