The Anticipation of Christmas

A shared experience most of us have is waiting for Christmas morning. Wait? Waiting sucks! Christmas may be the one last great place we all wait for something… in a “now” culture, to have something to wait for is a lesson waiting to be taught.

I remember that my family wasn’t very consistent with Christmas morning. Some years we woke up at the buttcrack of dawn to tear all of our presents open before collapsing for an 8 AM nap. Other years we woke up and had to stay in our rooms while my dad and stepmom made breakfast and made us eat a big breakfast before opening presents. Pure evil torture! My mom only seems to remember one Christmas in relationship to growing up. Her first year as a single mom… she refers to this Christmas a lot as the tree with one strand of lights. We had nothing. I think it broke her heart to know that we had almost nothing to open. But as a kid it wasn’t a big deal! Even as a young married couple, there was a time when the anticipation of Christmas was too much and our “just one” present on Christmas eve turned into opening everything under the tree. We totally ruined Christmas morning in a moment of guilty tearing! Something tells me, as a newlywed couple, that we’d had enough waiting that year! “Forget waiting… we’re free!”

But I think having kids finally has helped me understand gift giving as anticipation.

Two thousand years ago the people of the earth yearned in anticipation for the Messiah. Paul captured this feeling of waiting vs. anticipation quite well in Romans 8:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Christmas and gift giving are integrally tied to the anticipation of the moment we discover what we’re receiving. It’s emotional and it’s physical, isn’t it?

Everyday our kids ask me, “How much more (sic) longer until I get to open my gifts?” and “Tell me what my gifts are!This is our kids groaning in anticipation of present time!

The anticipation of Christmas is really a flashback physical experience of the anticipation of 2,000 years ago. The earth groaned for a Messiah… they waited in anticipation. They longed for the Chosen One. The moment of his arrival was precious.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

I love experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a 5 and 7 year old. Each day they wake up and carefully examine the tree and their stockings to see if anything new has appeared. They each count how many gifts have their name on them. Their anticipation is more than mental, it is physical! They literally groan. “Is it here yet?” On Wednesday night they won’t be able to sleep as the anticipation will be too much! On Thursday morning we will torture them by making them lay in bed while we prepare the living room. In those last few moments it will be real, emotional, PHYSICAL anticipation.

It’s our job as parents to remind them of that moment. That moment is the real meaning of Christmas. God answered the earth physical anticipation and groaning with the Child.


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One response to “The Anticipation of Christmas”

  1. Paul R Avatar
    Paul R

    Great point. I’ve never thought about the anticipation of Christmas that way. Paralleling the experience of your kids waiting for Xmas morning and creation groaning for renewal is really cool. Thanks for sharing.

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