We have just passed the third Sunday of Advent Season. A week from today, we will be celebrating the birthday of the Christ child, Christmas, the next season in the church calendar. Over two billion Christians around the world celebrate Christ’s birthday by attending joyous Christmas Eve services in their church, singing Christmas carols, and, in part, by giving gifts to family, friends, and loved ones.
At home on Christmas Eve, children go to sleep dreaming about what gifts Santa Claus will leave for them under the tree. Many will wish for a new bicycle, or sled, or a new baseball glove, or their favorite doll—the list is endless—and others will ask for a new warm coat or some other item of clothing that they would like. Even mom and dad will fall asleep wondering what surprise awaits them under the tree. Everyone drifts off feeling the hope that abounds at Christmas.
Most often, we think of gifts in material terms, whether it’s that doll or sled or the latest video game. However, there are boundless gifts that we have been given that are overlooked, that we truly should be thankful for. Here are just a few . . .
The gift of life itself! Do you ever wonder how the Almighty conceived the gift of life in all its forms? Think for a moment about every living thing on earth, from humans to animals, fish, insects, trees, flowers, worms, reptiles, birds, shrubs, and all creatures that have life, and all foods that spring from the earth that are needed to feed all those creatures. And did you ever think that every one of those life forms was endowed with the ability to procreate and, in many cases, to be an essential source necessary to sustain the lives of humans and other creatures? How life in all its forms sustains life is truly a great and ongoing gift. We could spend hours upon hours talking about how one form of life becomes the food for another form of life, whether it’s the grass in the field feeding the cattle or the roast of beef feeding the family, or a fish in the pond being swooped down upon by an eagle and becoming its evening meal, or those nasty mosquitoes becoming lunch for the bats in the trees. And on and on it goes, showing us that the Almighty had a purpose for everything in creation.
And how about all those gifts that are not living but are essential to life in all its forms? For example, the gift of dirt—where would we be if we didn’t have the dirt needed to grow all of our vegetables and the fruits that we eat? And where would that dirt and all it grows be if we didn’t have the gift of water? And where would all those waterborne creatures be without that gift? Without a doubt, dirt and water, plain old mud, are gifts essential to life.
We must not forget all those gifts buried in the ground that we can’t eat, drink, or breathe—things like everyday oil, gas, iron, coal, stone, and those precious and other not-so-precious metals and minerals that are buried in the ground. Where would we be without these things and the many others that contribute to our housing, our transportation, and the structures essential to a functioning society? The Almighty thought of those things, too.
While those gifts are all essential to life, there are many other gifts that we also take for granted that we need to recognize and be thankful for. For example, how about the six senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch, and the somewhat debatable perception? Can you imagine what life would be without those gifts? Think of the scent of a freshly cut Christmas tree in your living room, with a Christmas carol playing in the background while you sip a taste of eggnog your mom made for you. As you walk into the kitchen to return the glass, you catch the aroma of the turkey roasting in the oven and think of the family dinner that awaits. You put the glass down and give your mom a hug. Within a minute, you have not only benefited from all those gifts of senses; you have also benefited from a most important one that’s not mentioned: the gift of love.
We all share in an abundance of gifts every single day. At Christmas, we are reminded of another most precious gift: that Almighty God sent his only Son to the earth so that all who believe in Him shall not perish but have life everlasting. From that springs the gift of hope.
Bob Meade is a retired AT&T manager who resides in New Hampshire. He writes a regular op-ed column for the Laconia Daily Sun and has had a number of op-ed pieces published in the Manchester Union Leader.