Several years ago, my parents sold their home in Texas to be closer to their grandchildren. The first Christmas with the family together was glorious; we ate, played, and shopped nearly every day during Advent. One afternoon, I picked up my 5-year-old daughter Elise after a fun day with Grandpa and Grandma.
I noticed she was looking out the minivan window, a sad expression on her face. “What is it, hon?” I asked.
“It’s Grandpa and Grandma. I just feel really sorry for them,” she whispered.
Elise sighed. “I was just wondering, aren’t they ever going to have kids of their own?”
I chuckled all the way home.
Children can know the facts without understanding them. Sure, Elise knew that her grandparents are also my parents, but she was not yet able to comprehend the full meaning of the fact that children grow up to become adults and one day have kids of their own. Someday my daughter will know, just as her grandmother and I do, that childhood is only the beginning of a great adventure, and the sweetest surprises—not to mention the deepest sorrows—in life come with time.
This moment, though humorous, makes me wonder if I am like Elise in my understanding of Christmas. It seems familiar. Every year, I set out the same crèche. I bake the same cookies. I sing old hymns and carols, light white candles, and wrap presents. I understand Christmas so very well . . . or do I? Perhaps I know the facts but lack the ability to grasp the greater implications. What if the gift of Christmas is a mystery I will truly comprehend only much, much later?
I wonder, too, if on that starry night long ago I had held the infant Jesus, what would I have heard? As His newborn heart softly beat within His ribs, would I have heard the whisper of God hinting at the mystery still unfolding in my life, and in the world around us all? I truly believe the deepest joys are still to come, though I cannot comprehend them yet. One day, we will wake up in our Father’s house, surrounded by loved ones and gifts unending—the wonders await us all.