So, what do you want for Christmas? Perhaps that is a strange question to ask. It is the question we ask our little ones as they sit on Santa’s knee. It is the question for the children—for those who cannot earn their own way yet. Even so, I think it is also a question that must be asked of every adult, of every person who already lives with great privilege and power, as well as great uncertainty and anxiety about the future.
When I was a little child, we looked forward to getting the Sears and Roebuck catalog and looking through its pages of colorful toys. We made our lists, anticipating with delight the gifts that might be waiting for us under the Christmas tree. The old catalog is gone, but there continues to be a daily stream of ads in our mailbox and our inbox—all beckoning for our attention and our money. The gifts promise to make our lives easier, to make us look younger and better, to make us live longer.
Perhaps you have already done the shopping for others on your list. So Christmas is a quid pro quo holiday. We give a gift because we got a gift last year or we anticipate one this year. Perhaps there is that gift pool at work, where you have drawn names to make sure everyone gives and receives a gift. But, back to the focusing question: What do you want this Christmas? Are you in touch with your Christmas longing? What will satisfy the hunger in your soul? What will help you know that you are appreciated and loved? What will bring you peace?
I invite you to make your list now—not for someone else—but just for you. That’s not about being selfish, but about being human, a creature, and a child of God. We all depend on gifts to be fully alive. It’s not about what we can secure for ourselves. We need gifts to be whole. So, what is the gift that you need as Christmas comes?
That gift is likely found in some holy place, a sanctuary just down the street. For me, it is in a manger, where an infant lies in swaddling clothes. Christ is the gift, sought by shepherds and strangers from foreign lands. Christ is the gift who reaches across the brokenness and the divisions between people and nations—across the stress in our souls. Christ is the gift that brings forgiveness, pardon and peace, and life. Among all the things that promise us a better life, this baby—Jesus—is the gift for a lifetime. He is God’s gift for the world—God’s gift for you as Christmas comes anew.
So, what do you want for Christmas? That gift is found in a holy place right in your own neighborhood. Receive, cherish, and be changed by that gift!