My friend, Alice, had been either sick, or caring for sick children, throughout the entire Christmas season. So by December 23rd, she still hadn’t wrapped any gifts.

Though she still felt miserable, Alice wanted her little girls to have at least one whole day of anticipating the beautifully enticing packages under the tree, so she stayed up late that night, wrapping up the new dolls, books, coats, and mittens that she had purchased and tucked away. Working far into the night, Alice carefully measured out wrapping paper, curled ribbon, wrote out gift tags, and arranged the beautiful gifts under the tree before collapsing into bed.

Just after she finally drifted to sleep, Alice’s two-year-old awakened her with a terrible cough. Alice spent the rest of the night trying to console her thrashing, fussy child. By 6:00 a.m., when her toddler decided to get up for the day, Alice crawled back into bed and let Elaine roam the bedroom with her doll stroller. The last thing Alice remembered, before drifting back off to sleep, was her four-year-old coming in and chirping, “Want to play, Elaine? It’s Christmas! It’s Jesus’ birthday!”

A while later, Alice was awakened with a poke and an excited little voice, saying, “Mama, look! Look what I found!” She stared groggily into the face of a doll. A new doll.

Suddenly wide awake, Alice shrieked, “Where did you get that?” Leaping out of bed, she rushed down the stairs to find a horrible scene. Shreds of wrapping paper, tattered bits of ribbon, and gifts were strewn about the entire living room. The girls had even gotten out the steak knives from the drawer, to help themselves into the packages more readily.

Seeing her hopes for Christmas collapse in an instant, one sleep deprived Alice burst into tears. Little Lucy said, “But Mama… it’s Christmas! It’s Jesus’ birthday! And we wanted to open the packages because they were so beautiful…”

It turned out to be a Christmas surprise that Alice will never forget. Eventually, she dried her tears, and consoled her girls, assuring them that Christmas, indeed, was not ruined. Even though they wouldn’t be opening any gifts on Christmas morning, they would still celebrate Jesus’ birthday, and enjoy a fun day together.

Alice’s girls are older now, and I daresay they know that there is a right time and a wrong time to rip into packages. I’d also be willing to bet that they know that steak knives are not the best gift-opening tool of choice.

But even back when these sweet little girls didn’t follow gift-opening protocol, they did exhibit an enthusiasm that is fitting for Christmas.

God’s Son, Jesus, is the greatest gift of Christmas. And opening ourselves to a relationship with Him calls for all of the steak-knife-urgency and enthusiasm we can muster! If Jesus is not yours, and if you are not His, don’t delay! This Gift has an expiration date known only to the Giver.

And if He is yours, and you do belong to him? Well, then. You have plenty to celebrate! Why not carve out some time–steak knife style–to savor Him today?

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