Growing up, I never lived in the same state as my grandmother on my mom’s side and only lived near my other grandmother for a few years. Both of my grandfathers passed away when I was very young so I have no real memories of them. While there was so much that I missed getting to experience, I always knew that my grandmothers loved us and that they were thinking of the two little girls who lived across the country.
Every year when December rolled around, my sister and I would watch and wait for THE box. It was unlike any other delivery made during the Christmas season and, as opposed to the daily Amazon deliveries we see these days, waiting for this box to arrive required a degree of patience that has now become unfamiliar to most of us.
The box was sent to us every year from my grandmother (my mom’s mom) who lived in Michigan. And when it arrived, you would have thought that THIS was Christmas day. Upon opening it, we would see package after package, wrapped in festive paper and there would be tins filled with homemade goodies. Peanut butter balls, molasses cookies and so much more! There were presents to be put under the tree in anticipation of the big day but there were always smaller gifts, usually simply wrapped in tissue paper, with my grandmother’s handwriting scrawled across and the words ‘OPEN NOW‘. Those had to be two of the best words in existence!
We had permission to open gifts before Christmas. Permission to rip through that paper to see what treasures we’d find inside. They were always small things like an ornament or a box of candy but, when Christmas day always seemed so far away, opening gifts right then and there seemed like the most indulgent thing imaginable. And it reminded those two little girls that, even though they lived so far away from family, they were never very far away from their thoughts.
Fast forward to 2020 and upon opening my mailbox I discover a big box sitting there. A box sent from my parents all the way across the country to my home here in Oregon. I come back into the house and call out to my kids to tell them that THE box from Nonna and Poppa has arrived. They might be teenagers, but that doesn’t stop them from racing down the stairs to open it because they know what they will find inside. Yes, there will be the special gifts that will immediately go under the tree to await opening on Christmas Day. But, then there will be package after package all wrapped up with the words ‘OPEN NOW‘ scrawled across them in my mom’s beautiful handwriting (she has amazing penmanship!). An ornament, a coffee gift card, bath bombs, their favorite treats and there, tucked inside with the rest is one with my name on it and those all important words.
I may be 44 years old, but the moment I see them I feel like a little girl again and I’m so grateful that my mom still thinks to do that for me.
That evening, as I was taking the emptied box filled with the torn wrapping paper out to the garage, I couldn’t stop thinking about those words.
We wait all year for Christmas to arrive and the closer it gets, the more the anticipation builds. Cookies are baked, menus are planned, parties are held, presents are purchased, wrapped and placed under the tree. There is so much that we do to get ready for this one day. And everything that happens throughout the season is done with the understanding that it’s only a glimmer of what’s to come. So much of this season is a waiting experience. Waiting for the big meal, waiting for the family to gather, waiting for the best present. But, friends, we don’t have to wait to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
Jesus Christ is an ‘Open Now’ gift.
He isn’t confined to this one day out of the year and we don’t need to postpone the acceptance of the gift of His life, death and resurrection on our behalf. The greatest gift ever given.
You know that feeling you get when you open the perfect present? The one where you can tell that the person giving it to you put in so much thought and care and that they just really ‘get’ you? Well, that feeling of being seen and known and loved is only an infinitesimal glimpse of how it feels to receive the gift of Christ.
And the beauty of this gift is that it’s already been given to you even if you don’t really recognize it. You only need to open it up. To open it now.
My prayer for you this season is that this Gift will be more real to you than ever before and that you will experience the joy and wonder of His love in fresh ways knowing that every day is an ‘OPEN NOW’ day.