December is here and that means Christmas gifts. Gift giving is a double edged sword. When a gift is given that is a delightful surprise or a longed for treasure, all is well. The giver is happy, the recipient is thrilled, the tree seems to be bigger and brighter. But when the gift that was desired does not appear, the tree is somehow not as pretty and spirits are dampened. A cloud hangs over the festive atmosphere of Christmas Day. And, of course, the disappointment of the missing gift is not limited to children, mom & dad can know this ache as well.
Not getting the gift that is wanted can happen for several reasons. The budget dictates trips to Walmart instead of the mall. Usually this kind of disappointment can be addressed with a loving dose of reality given well in advance of Christmas Day. Sometimes, the giver is simply unaware of what is going on inside the person to whom he is giving the gift. A little more sensitivity and careful listening would help here.
However, there is another reason for disappointment that must not be missed. It is the problem of unrealistic expectations driven by selfishness or its equally destructive sibling, self-pity. This kind of disappointment cannot be solved by sensitivity or a dose of reality. In this case the gift that was given is not enough. There is no gratitude shown for gifts that are given. There is no joy at seeing others receive gifts. This is a serious problem.
This type of disappointment is a major heart issue. If it shows up on Christmas morning it is present on all the other days as well. This is something that only has one cure – the gospel. Look for these indications of self centeredness and seek God’s face daily to address this. This is not a phase that your child will one day move beyond. If you find this sort of disappointment on Christmas morning be thankful you have, by God’s grace, been able to identify it. Then, seek this same grace to help you to bring the reality of the gospel to your child. His disappointment will only be resolved in the person of Christ. This is the gift your child needs.
It can be special to see delight for material gifts. But parents you must lead the way and show your delight for the gift of the gospel. It is true that often we don’t receive what we would really like. But this disappointment must be tempered the joy of receiving the gift of the gospel. We must value gifts that will not wear out over those that will. When you see disappointment over the issues of daily life in your children you can expect to see it again on Christmas morning. Joy that focuses on Christ and causes delight for those we love is infectious. Value the gospel for what it is – the greatest gift of all.