In looking for a theme for decorating this year (sorry, I do that), I realized that this is the twenty-fifth year that Nancy and I have celebrated Christmas together, that we have given presents to each other.
We had gotten engaged in July of 1982 and then I started grad school in Texas (UT-Austin) in August. I came home for break in December. In January, right before I headed back to school, we picked up our wedding license. There was a waiting period in Illinois at that point. I was coming home on Spring break in March and so wouldn’t have enough time for the license. As it was, if the wedding had been delayed even a couple days, the license would have expired.
If I were good, I would remember what we bought for each other that year. I have no clue. What I do know is that shortly after I told Nancy this year what the theme was (I handle most of the Christmas decorating), she came home with this heart.
Of course I cried. I always do.
It’s an inexpensive heart. What makes it glow is that it has been purified by 25 years of refining. It has been polished by 25 years of conversation. It has been shaped by 25 years of forming. Its meaning lies not in the heart itself but in the relationship that it represents.
That’s true of mangers, too.
The whole significance of today is not in the most expensive gifts or the most beautiful music, or the best cards or the most accurate living nativity scene. The manger was part of an invitation, not to a set of rules about not running in church (were you born in a barn?) but to a relationship with One who refines and polishes and forms not inexpensive materials but actual valuable hearts.
It is a happy Christmas.
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