When we were kids, that question implied the friend really wanted a turn to brag about their new train or bike or roller skates – always something bigger or better than you received.
But were they really asking, “Did you get enough?” Did you, like he or she, arrive at the end of the day and wonder, “Is that all there is?”
For adults, the question is usually, “How was your Christmas?” The question is too often only as deep as, “How was your vacation?” It’s good manners, and makes better conversation than the weather.
With us, the hidden question may be, “Did you survive the crush of activity, expectations and indulgences?” For others, “Did you have to endure family members you’re glad you won’t see again until next year?” Or simply, “Did things go as you planned? Did you get what you wanted?”
In the end, though, perhaps the deeper question really hasn’t changed. “Is that all there is?”
This Christmas was far from normal for me. With many health and energy challenges, I shopped from bed with my smart phone. Advent candles were all I managed in preparation. My husband brought down the tree and plugged in the lights. I hung the ornament my grandson made in school, and set out the manager scene (weeks behind), placing the important figures around the room, to move towards Christmas.
No lights outside, garlands on the mantel or decorations scattered throughout the house, all of which I love. No smells of Christmas baking, aside from the Tropical Christmas Pudding I had started months before for my British son-in-law. Since I couldn’t count on having the energy for a big Christmas dinner, nothing special was planned for the day.
Christmas Eve we traveled north to enjoy a wonderful dinner with our son and his family, then to a candlelight service with YD and her family. Our time with all of them was sweet.
Christmas Day, my husband and I provided music for an intimate gathering of families for our Spanish congregation, then I picked up my mother from her assisted living home. She didn’t even know it was Christmas.
I spent Christmas caring for Mom, and trying to draw her back to reality. Towards the end of the day, she kept asking where she was going to sleep, obviously longing to stay, so I pulled out a clean toothbrush and soft flannel PJ’s.
As I do with my grandchildren when they visit, when I tucked her in, I put my hand on her forehead and prayed for her.
When I finished the prayer, she smiled radiantly and said, “You’re the best Mommy I have ever had.” Then Mom turned on her side and fell asleep.
As long as I sought gifts of time or stuff, even my own mother’s love — anything in this world to satisfy my need for love — I would always end with, “Is that all there is?”
Now that the Manger Child, God become human, has grown into the Savior of my heart, I know that Christmas isn’t about presents.
Christmas is about presence.
His presence in my life has filled the longing in my heart.
And now I can freely be the hand of love. I can give the gift of my time, energy and attention because I have received love that overflows its boundaries, a love that seeks to give, and give, and give again.
How was your Christmas?