I was at the grocery store the other day, and I got to chatting with the young woman at the cash register. She couldn’t have been more than eighteen, and she had a gift for conversation, so she began asking me about Christmas. She could hardly contain her excitement about the festivities and presents. And without even thinking, I told her I just wanted to buy a cow for Christmas.
She looked like you’re probably looking right now.
“A cow? Why would you want a cow?” It’s a quite logical question.
I tried to explain to her that, with six children, three sons-in-law, four grandchildren and a variety of relatives and friends, giving had become really challenging. A group called Samaritan’s Purse actually helps families in desperate places, such as several of the ravaged countries in Africa, with sustainable ways of making a living. Rather than giving them a bag of rice, you give them a cow or chickens or a goat so that they may use the milk or eggs or sell them to neighbors and actually have a means of nourishment for longer than a few days. A wonderful idea, to my way of thinking.
The young gal at the check-out stood and stared at me with her mouth open. What do you say to the woman who wants a cow? And then she realized she was staring, closed her mouth and smiled and handed me my receipt. And I realized I’d sounded pedantic, possibly even manic, so I smiled back, said “Merry Christmas” and left.
In my head the conversation had gone so much better.
I was serious about the cow. I’m finding that so often I’m overlooking what “enough” is–not that I want a lot of things, but I find it easy to become discontent when I can’t get the things I think I “need”. And the truth is, I really don’t need anything. I have enough things. What I need is greater gratitude for what I have, for how I’ve been blessed.
During the Christmas season, it’s easy to get confused. The cultural norm is if some is good, more is better. So we’re encouraged to ask for more, to want more. But rationally we understand that enough is enough. Christmas is about giving, but where do you draw the line?
When I think of that first Christmas, I think of the gifts the new King received. Definitely not baby gifts. Gold represented His Kingship; frankincense indicated His priestly role; myrrh depicted His death–He came as a baby to die as our Savior. Unusual gifts, symbolic of the majesty and mission of the God-Man, Messiah. Simple, yet profound. Rich, yet meaningful.
So we will simplify our giving this year. After all, with grandkids it’s hard not to pull the Nana card and give them what they think they want. But we’ll talk more about appreciating what has been given. And we’ll consider what it is we can give back to Jesus in appreciation for all He has given us. After all, He is the best gift. The only one I really need.
And maybe next year we’ll buy a cow.