Wednesday, December 16, 2020
The next day was Christmas at my fiancé’s house. It would be my first Christmas with the soon-to-be in-laws. I loved their house. It was very old, very small, and very much a home. I sat down on the flowered couch in the living room to have a conversation with Denise’s dad.
Roy sat in the recliner in the corner next to the folding door that separated the living room from the master bedroom. Now when I say master bedroom, it’s only because that’s where Mom and Dad slept. It had no correlation to master bedrooms of today. It was only big enough for a dresser and two twin beds. The bathroom was connected to the kitchen, and had the tiniest four-foot bathtub I had ever seen.
Next to the bedroom door was the furnace for the house. There were metal grates above it to allow the heat to rise upstairs to the two tiny bedrooms on the north end of the house. Denise’s bedroom was above the kitchen on the south, so the heat from the furnace had to go into the kitchen, then up through the vent there to warm her room. To this day Denise loves to sleep all cocooned up in heavy blankets.
As Roy and I talked, Denise’s grandma showed up. She lived down the street in her own home. She sat on the couch next to me after she put a small round gift under the tree.
Once she arrived, it only took a few minutes for Roy to ask if it was time to open presents. Denise’s dad loved Christmas, and was more like a six-year old than a grown-up when it came to opening them. Christmas dinner preparation was put on hold.
There were many gifts given that day, but I can only remember one. It was the single small gift grandma had brought. It was handed to Denise’s younger brother. Grandma started smiling. Then she started laughing. The gift hadn’t even been opened yet but the joy of giving was bursting forth from her. As the paper was removed, a can of Spaghetti-O’s was revealed. Grandma was now laughing hysterically. Denise’s brother started laughing. He loved Spaghetti-O’s. He dropped the can and it went rolling across the floor. Grandma lunged for it, losing her balance. As she stumbled to one knee, she grabbed the can of Spaghetti-O’s and lifted it high above her head as she continued roaring with laughter. We all joined her.
As she made her way back to the couch, I couldn’t help but think of the overwhelming joy that comes from giving. Grandma had not wanted to come to the family Christmas without something to give. She gave what she had, knowing that the recipient had a daily craving for what she gave. The humor of the gift added to her joy. That act of giving a simple can of food brought more joy to the entire family than the sum total of all the other gifts.
That memory of Christmas has challenged me to be more aware of the simple things God is rolling out to me every day and the joy I may be missing by not seeing them.
Several days ago we had the most amazing sunrise in our city. The perfect combination of light and cloud cover produced a majestic display second only to the soon-to-be-revealed glory of God. The eastern horizon progressed from light pink to dark pink to purple to the most brilliant gold I have ever seen. The western sky followed that pattern as the moments passed. Dozens of pictures of the event, from amateur to professional, have been posted on social media.
I saw it in person as I drove to the office. I stopped the car and took it all in. My heart exploded with one thought as the sky turned golden. “If a normal day can begin with such brilliance, I wonder how brilliant the return of Jesus will be?” I was filled with an inexpressible joy.
Every day God rolls out numerous cans of Spaghetti-O’s. Start grabbing them, and laugh hysterically at the joy He is bringing you.