I started a new Christmas tradition a couple of years ago. I decided I don’t want any more socks or shirts from my kids for Christmas. No more robes, books, knives or desk decor. What I want now, for the rest of my life from my kids for Christmas, is a song.
So I chose one. One that meant something to me. One that I hope they will play at my funeral. I entrusted it to them, asking them to perform it for me, and then let it go. Weeks and months went by and I had no clue if they were preparing. I would drop an occasional hint, but I tried to let it take shape on its own. As fall moved into winter, I began to hear notes and sounds and a smile would cross my lips. Anticipation.
Last Christmas our whole family gathered at my parents’ cabin in the woods. One night that week I organized an impromptu talent show and began gathering a list of acts from brothers and nephews and nieces. The kids were going to perform my gift as the centerpiece of the show.
We laughed and listened, clapped and cheered as different family members shared. Then it was my kids’ turn. They gathered before the fireplace: Jacob on the cajon, Harrison on the keyboard, Jenova on xylophone and Haven on guitar. Haven took the lead vocal and they began.
My song. A gift for me. Yet, what I received was not what I expected. What happened as I soaked in the experience was altogether different. I found myself watching each of them as they concentrated on notes and words and I noticed that each would look up every few beats to catch my eyes. In each of those eye contacts I was surprised. There was depth, there were questions.
“Do you like it?”
“Are you pleased?”
“Do we have your favor?”
I leaned forward in my chair and began trying to catch their eyes, transmitting love and delight as I met each of them and as the final note played and everyone began clapping, we hugged and laughed and I told them how much I loved them, how much I loved their song.
Reflecting on it now, having just requested my next Christmas song, it makes me wonder. God invites us and calls us to live the way he designed, the way he showed us through his son. The only way to do that is to trust that what he did really changes things and that what he said is true. That trust leads to a life lived freely, truly, to a life that is full.
Does he give you glimpses of his pleasure with you? Are you looking up to him for validation, for affirmation? Do you know that he longs to catch your eye and transmit to your spirit how delighted he is with you? Look up and know that you are loved.