It’s just a few days before Christmas, and almost all of the gifts are purchased. The goodies have been made, the halls have been decked, and we wait in expectation for “the big day”. Yet in spite of all of the conscientious preparations, it seems that the same question arises every year:
It’s a question that pricks, haunts. Its refrain plays in endless derivations: Did we get enough “stuff” to fulfill their Christmas dreams? Did we take enough time to prepare their hearts? Did we focus enough on the true meaning of Christmas? Did we give enough to others? Did we give Christ His due?
Each year, I never get a completely satisfactory answer. I mean, what exactly is ? I struggle with the conflict between wanting to experience the joy of giving my children the things they desire and knowing that giving them everything they desire is not, ultimately, what is best for them. The contradiction between giving them “things” and yet wanting them to gain the message that “things” are not what are important.
I see examples of others who seek to answer the same question, in different ways, and I’m simultaneously inspired, convicted, and perplexed. Those who give mountains of gifts, from the perspective that love displays itself in giving. Those who pattern gift-giving after the model of the Wise Men: three gifts only, in an effort to balance giving with a focus on the gift of Christ. And those, like homeschooler and writer , whose family, on the request of her 4-year-old, does not give gifts to each other at all, but spends Christmas morning choosing gifts from catalogs like World Vision to give to those in need.
So many different traditions, so many ways of approaching Christmas. Yet, I’ll bet they all still ask the same question I ask: “Did we do enough?”
As I ponder the question again this year, it occurs to me that it’s not a question that becomes silenced once Christmas passes. Like an echo that reverberates throughout every facet of life, I hear the repeat as I parent, as I work, as I homeschool…
I finished writing the article.
I’m trying to help my daughter improve her math skills.
I attempted to show my husband how much I care about him.
I just disciplined my daughter for her disobedience.
I tried to answer my child’s question effectively.
I gave some support to my hurting friend.
I want my kids to see my love more than my criticism.
I’m homeschooling to instill my values in my children.
I want to be a person characterized by love and service rather than selfishness and pride.
And then, light dawns. Maybe the reason this question pounds so loudly at Christmas is because Christmas provides the answer. We, in and of ourselves, can never do enough. Not for our friends, our children, or for the world. We can never completely hit the mark, make the grade, get it all accomplished. But we were never designed to be able to. The miracle of Christmas is the message of grace. Of unmerited grace in the face of our own inadequacy. It is the message of the One who has come to fill in our gaps, to cover where we falter, to fulfill what we can never achieve. It is Christmas that gives us the final answer to our nagging question.
Did we do enough? No. And we never will. But
And that is more than the best we can ever hope to give. In fact, it’s enough to not only get us and our families through our daily questions, challenges, and insecurities…
It’s enough to save the world.
Rebecca Capuano is the stay-at-home mom of three children (one of whom is in heaven) who also makes attempts at being a homeschooler, writer, photographer, scrapbooker, and truth-seeker. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, and has worked in a variety of capacities (including group homes, day treatment centers, and public schools) with at-risk children and staff, including developing a therapeutic and educational day treatment center for delinquent youth in Wilmington, North Carolina. She currently resides in Virginia, and has written on a variety of topics for both Examiner.com and Home Educators Association of Virginia. Rebecca believes that family is created by God as the most fundamental institution in society, and she is dedicated to helping families nurture their children to become responsible persons of character and integrity.