Christmas 1990 was the worst.
Even though my parents lavished me with great gifts, there were no surprises, nothing to anticipate – no joy.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, I prowled my house and scoured the closets like an afternoon burglar in search of my gifts until I found every single one.
I would visit them every now and then to behold their majesty. But when Christmas morning arrived, my excitement and their glory had faded. All that remained was stuff in boxes wrapped in paper. I faked my reactions the best I could, pretending like it was the first time I had seen my presents. But I had robbed myself of joy, and I had robbed my parents of true gratitude.
I walked away from the Christmas tree disappointed that morning. Not in my presents because I received everything I desired. But in my experience because I got everything I deserved. My 14-year-old heart lusted after things and their promises of joy. I got one and missed the other. But that’s always the case when we long for the wrong things.
Christmas is supposed to be about the joy of anticipation and delayed gratification. During Advent I think we’re meant to experience a small taste of what people long ago and for long ages experienced – the yearning, the anticipation, the hope of a coming Savior.
Presents, decorations, carols, lights, parties, good food, and family gatherings – all those things direct our attention to the one Person we anticipate and celebrate at Christmas – our one, true hope of joy.
I still think about Christmas 1990. That’s the year I tried to find joy in a closet. But it wasn’t there.