Let me set the scene. It was Christmas Eve in my childhood living room. Seven brothers were lined up on the couch (it was a big couch). From oldest to youngest, there was only a ten-year separation in age. I think back now in wonder and amazement as to how my parents raised seven boys!
Tradition in the Albracht home was to open gifts on Christmas Eve. Our parents always took us out to eat and by the time we came home, Santa had come and gone. You might imagine that when we drove up the driveway and opened the front door, all seven boys would pour into the house and start ripping open presents – but that was not the case! Instead, my parents gave us the best gift they possibly could.
We filed into the living room and sat in a row on our oversized piece of furniture. Anticipation grew while the white lights on the tree flickered and the presents sat neatly wrapped underneath. We were all ready to open presents, but it was not yet time – something else always happened first. My mother took her Bible, opened to Luke chapter 2 and read the Word of God.
Now when I was a boy, I thought that my mother was reading a novel! It seemed as if she would never get done. I would try to focus on what she was reading, but I would catch myself dreaming about the treasures hidden beneath the decorative paper.
About the time she would get to verse 20, I knew we were close, but there was one more thing that we did before the ripping and tearing could begin. We prayed. Often, my father would pray a prayer of gratitude. Grateful for the gift of Jesus, the message of love that He taught, and most of all the salvation that we have through Him!
Before we ever pulled off a bow or ripped through tape and paper, my parents guided us to think about the miracle of Christmas. What a great gift!
Now that I have three children of my own (three is plenty), I often think about what gifts to give them. What will be meaningful? What will last? What will they remember?
No matter if you have kids or not, there are people all around you that you can give great gifts to. God has put people in your realm of influence that you get to care for. Here are the top 5 gifts that will most impact the people in your life – and the great thing about these gifts, you can give them every day of the year:
- Invite somebody to Worship God with you – invite them to church or to a special event like our Christmas Candlelight Service.
- Make sure that you Grow in your relationship with God – if you are growing, then you can pour into others.
- Use the gifts that God gave you to Serve others – showing love by helping those that God has put in your path will make a huge impact.
- Share the story of how God changed your life – tell someone what your life was like before you trusted Christ and what it is like now.
- Give generously to the cause of Christ – by giving tithes and offerings, you are sharing the gospel with our community and the world.
Most of the gifts that I unwrapped each Christmas Eve have come and gone. However, the greatest gift that my parents gave me remains. I watched my parents live for the Lord. They were far from perfect, but I watched them strive each day to trust in Him. The faith I have today is in large part due to their example. I watched them Worship, Grow, Serve, Share, and Give.
The traditions that I have with my wife and kids are just a bit different than what I grew up with, after all it is important to start your own traditions. But there is one tradition that has carried over. Each Christmas Eve, we open up God’s Word and thank Him for our salvation.