Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Good Things Come in Small Packages

Today, I really appreciate the wise old saying, "Good things come in small packages." Zees is twoo. Zees is why:

Since I am doing 99.99999% of all my Christmas shopping online this year, I am getting to know the UPS man, Chuck pretty well.  I don't know what's up with Fed Ex, they send a different guy every single time, which tends to put a damper on the human relations element of my team-building strategy. 
Online shopping is a bit like football.  You need great "special teams" to make it happen. I've got my "Box-n-Ship Team." They are like the undercover agents of shopping.  You never see them, but they are out there, calling the plays. Then, there's the "Delivery Team." That would be Chuck and the Fleet of Fex-Exers. And of course there's the "Receiving Team."  That would be me, Stella the barking Retriever, and my stampede of boys who look for any opportunity to get out of their seat during school.

I have to admit as organized as I am try to be, I do tend to forget a few things, here and there, that I have ordered, even though my desk area is covered in sticky neon reminders, coded in confounding language such as "Two Barrel Brother Blaster" (Nerf Gun) or "800 Moon Peace pieces" (800 piece Star Wars Legos).  

I know, it's tricky, but kids are so smart, and when you live in a wittle twaiwer howse you have to outsmart and out-twick 'em.  I have tried to hide my list, but that's risky, because I'm a good hider.  So good, I often cannot find the things I have hidden.  Therefore, coded sticky-notes reign.

Anyway, when Chuck rolled in and handed me one small package yesterday, I couldn't for the life of me remember what it could be.  

Ah, yes (cue the bells here)! Every year I add a few books to our Advent and Christmas story collection. They often stagger in in odd shipments, and this was the one I had been most eagerly awaiting:

As I sat and listened to Andrew reading it to George and Henry, I was struck by this one thought:  How can something so simple and so small (the book) change the course of something so big (Advent)??
Sometimes the smallest things can, in their subtlety, have great power....

A raindrop waking up an earth lulled to sleep by a dusty drought has the power to change an entire growing season for farmers.  The sound of a baby's heartbeat in the womb reaching his mother's ears, changing her heart and her life forever.  Such little things, such profound changes....

Ok, so this book isn't rain or a heartbeat, but I am at the helm of this family's ship and the story was like a slight shift in the wind's direction, setting our ship back on course...

...a course that had slipped into preparing for Santa, not a Savior.

I was doing what most of us do - keeping the traditions of Christmas alive, traditions that center around Santa's arrival on Christmas morning.  Trim the tree, bake the cookies, sing the songs, buy the gifts, you know the routine. We work wonders to ensure that the mystery and magic of Santa is kept alive, all the while the real meaning of Advent takes a back seat in the sleigh.

Sure, we have an Advent wreath up, and our Nativity set too, but what the kids see from me isn't Advent, Adventus - preparations for the arrival of something or someone extremely important, they see all signs pointing to the North Pole.  
I want to feel just a glimmer of the anticipation felt by the Jews as they awaited the arrival of their Savior.  Anticipation is rooted in need.  I need Him, my children need Him - if we didn't, we wouldn't call ourselves Christian and I wouldn't be writing this post.

To build anticipation, in addition to our normal Advent traditions, this year we have added a special activity of preparing the nativity for Jesus.  Like the animals in the story, we are aware that someone extremely important is coming to our house, to our hearts.  For every good deed, or virtuous act offered each day by a child, he places a piece of straw in the nativity, preparing a soft place for Our Lord.

See, great things do come in small packages! A little story with a little voice that says, "Don't forget Him."

If you would like to share this story with your family, it's not too late! You can find it here.

Happy Advent, Everyone! O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

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