12 Days of Christmas Countdown – DAY TWO

– Invitation to An Unexpected Christmas –

Christmas 2004 was the most unexpected ever

Christmas is a great time for the unexpected.  One of the best unexpected gifts I ever received came from my husband, Phil, seven years ago.  It came on a Christmas after a long stretch of financial struggle.  Our family had been living with my parents for more than two years at that point just to make ends meet.

Now, it turned out to be a good thing for all of us to live together – our kids really enjoyed the attention of their grandparents, and both Phil and I, along with my parents, were pleasantly surprised at how well we all meshed living in such close quarters.  However, we were all ready for a bit more breathing room.

But then came Christmas 2004 – it’s one I will not soon forget.  It’s not often that my husband has the pleasure of truly surprising me, especially when there was no money to just go out and buy the “perfect gift.”  In fact, to save money, Phil and I hadn’t even exchanged gifts with each other for several Christmases.  We agreed that we would do the same that year as well.  But after everyone was finished opening their presents and the general hubbub of the morning had died down, Phil said, “Hey, it looks like there’s still one more gift under the tree.”

I was genuinely surprised when he pulled the gift out and handed it to me.  At first I was a bit upset because I had honored our agreement not to exchange gifts, but now here I was receiving a gift from Phil without having one to give back to him.  But my chagrin quickly turned to tears as I tore open the package and was greeted with the gift of my very first laptop computer.  This was something I’d wanted for quite some time, but knew there was no way we’d be able to afford any time soon.  Especially when you’re not sure how you’re even going to be able to afford new shoes for your kids.

I was speechless.  Phil truly understood how much this gift meant to me.  I am a writer.  I teach part-time at a Christian university.  I truly have need of a computer – especially one that I could take with me, out of the house and away from the noise and chaos of young children and tight living quarters, giving me a few minutes of breathing room to think.

As I blinked back the tears and looked at my husband, he answered the question in my eyes.  “It’s okay,” he said.  “I didn’t have to pay anything for it.  I got it for free.”  This was a real relief, and made the gift even more amazing.  It turned out that a friend of Phil’s was upgrading the computers in his office and had given Phil the laptop, thinking he could use it.  It’s true, Phil could have used it.  But instead he chose to give it to me.  I was humbled and overjoyed and truly speechless (I know, I’ve already said that – but for me to be speechless, well it’s unheard of).

My husband was the hero of that Christmas.  Our boys thought something was wrong and couldn’t understand why mommy was crying.  But Phil understood.  He knew the depth of my longing for a laptop and the freedom it represented.  He knew the sacrifices we had both made to serve in ministry and care for our kids.  And here he was, able to give me the very thing he knew I desperately longed for.  I think watching my reaction upon opening it was almost as much of a gift to Phil as it was to me.

I honestly can’t imagine a Christmas gift that could top that one. 

Well, of course there was that unexpected Christmas gift 2,000 years ago.  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being the God of amazing surprises – for showing up just when we need you most.  Come today, and surprise us again

May the unexpected gift of Christ’s presence and love surround you this Christmas.

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