“I’ll be back in a bit, hon,” my new husband shouted over his shoulder as he hurried out the door of our small apartment.
“I wonder what’s he’s up too?” I pondered.
An hour passed, and my mind began to race wondering what trouble he might be getting into. We had been married less than a year. Our small Charlie Brown Christmas tree leaned in the corner with the few dangling ornaments we had inherited from our childhood.
An antique Mary and Joseph in a faded yellow dome took center stage on the front of our tree.
My life was completely different now.
I never really thought I’d ever get married. Didn’t think anyone would ever want me.
Yet, somehow I’d always dreamed of having a healthy, happy family one day. An unrealistic dream, I thought – something so unlike what I had had growing up.
During the first few months of our young marriage I had found myself pacing the floor at night unable to sleep. Trapped. Trapped by a piece of paper. A covenant I had agreed to be with this one man I had dated less than a year, for life! But as the months had passed, I had begun to settle down a bit.
My eyes fell on the simple manager scene under the tree. An uncertain young husband, a newlywed wife holding on to a promise, and a baby – a vulnerable, innocent lamb. They had a dream too – a dream that this child would one day save the world.
The scuffling of feet at our door returned my attention to the thought of “Where is Paul?” Someone bumped the door, then knocked. “He has a key,” I thought, but I got up to see who it was.
But then his muffled voice confirmed. “Open the door, hon.”
The crispy air nipped my cheeks as I swung open the door to a man with a grin beaming from ear to ear. In his arms, he held tightly the largest bundle of mistletoe I’d ever seen. My fears melted into joyful shock.
“What in the world?” I stammered.
He pushed his way through the front door with it, and placed it on the table, which it now covered. “Merry Christmas!”
He might as well have brought home a buck he had shot for Christmas dinner. I laughed. “What are we going to do with all this mistletoe?”
“What do you think?” He smirked and then blushed.
“We have to share some of the wealth here, don’t you think?” We had other friends who were young married, all of whose names suddenly popped in my head.
I looked back at my now green covered table. “How did you manage all this?”
He smiled again, this time a proud, Tarzan-like smile. I chuckled again. “Well, I had a little help.” He paused. “You know the property at church is pretty large with lots of trees. I thought I had seen some mistletoe in them, and well, I thought it would be fun to have some hanging up for Christmas.”
Laughing to himself, he said, “I got over there and Dan, the grounds guy was out with his backhoe.”
“Oh no. What did you do?”
“Well, there were no low hanging boughs, so he offered to lift me up in the bucket to grab some of the high hanging pieces.” His chest almost burst with pride.
“Thank you, sweetheart.” He got his kiss before the mistletoe ever got hung up.
That happened 24 years ago now. We have had a lot of ups and downs, been through a lot of very difficult things together, and a lot of beautiful times. For many reasons, this still holds as one of my favorite Christmas memories.
Outside of all the kisses that year, it reminds me of the simple thoughtfulness of blessing someone you love with the more than enough. Just because.
The gift was extravagant – it was way more than we could ever use. Sometimes, because we hear the story of Jesus’s birth over and over, we lose the extravagance of it all — the awe-struck wonder of God sending His own son to be a man, a man of sorrows, acquainted with our pain, our grief, to save us from our sins. It wasn’t a last minute, last ditch effort on God’s part either. It was methodically planned before the creation of time itself.
God blessed us with the more than enough, with the greatest possible gift, with His son, Jesus.
I had been tempted to reject my husband’s gift that day, because it just felt too much, like I knew I didn’t deserve to be loved that way.
God’s love is the same way, given freely, not because we’ve done anything to deserve or earn it. It’s like He’s standing at the door with His arms full of unconditional love — His love looks like a baby who came to save us.
Will you receive His gift today? You won’t regret it. And then you can share that gift with others. There is always more than enough.