Grownup Christmas List
When was the last time you wrote an honest to goodness, sit-at-your desk, ink-on-stationery letter? It’s probably been a while. Sadly, letter writing has become a lost art. Today we have near instant access to anybody at any time. Who needs letters? But lost is the process itself, the times of special thought poured out on paper sent to a loved one. And lost is the satisfaction of receiving an answer that could be read again and again.
Letter writing was a skill we began to develop in our kid years. Most kids’ first letters were not written to grandma and grandpa. They were written to that guy living north of everywhere else. We had to make sure he understood. Though we were not skilled writers, those early letters were easy to write. We just took the Sears catalogue, flipped to the toy section, and wrote what we saw. Everything we saw. One year Santa wrote back that I asked for too much. Least he was nice about it.
But Sears no longer issues a catalogue as big as a phone book, and we’re not kids anymore. Coming up with the right list is not easy, and it gets harder with each passing year. Christian singer Amy Grant has come up with a great one. In Grownup Christmas List, she sings her deepest wants: No more lives torn apart, that wars would never start, and time would heal the heart. Everyone would have a friend, and right would always win, and love would never end. It’s a poignant list, but is Amy asking for too much?
Not if we remember King Solomon’s request. God told Solomon to ask for anything and it would be given. Think of the possibilities, as Solomon probably did. But realizing both his blessings and his needs, Solomon asked for an understanding heart to judge God’s people and to distinguish right from wrong. In a word, he asked for wisdom.
Perhaps that’s the gift we need the most, for with wisdom we can better appreciate the gift that God has already given us. Life. That one word says what other words cannot. Life is the sum and substance of everything that we can think, feel, say, do, and experience. It is more than seeing the artistry of a sunset, listening to the rustling leaves of autumn, soaking in the smells of a pine forest, savoring the flavor of a ripe strawberry, and holding a cuddly puppy. Life is the depths of sorrow and the heights of joy. Life is failure and accomplishment, defeat and victory. Life is confusion followed by understanding, frustration followed by satisfaction. It is mistakes and new starts and more of both. It is backbreaking and uplifting, mundane and profound. It is wonder and awe at what none of us could have created on our own. Life is the profound experience that brings us to the unconditional love of God.
It is meant to be lived with others. God knew that it was not good for man to be alone. To Adam God gave Eve and to both He gave children. He told them to be fertile and multiply that the earth may be filled with life and that generation after generation will know His Love. Each human being brings with him the love of God and the potential for so much good. With each other, our lives become more complete. We share burdens and joys. We are companions and confidants. We are God’s solution to problems, His answer to prayer. And so we might understand each other and know the difference between right and wrong, He gave us His law and planted it in our hearts.
Yet in our lack of wisdom we have broken it. That’s nothing new. But today it is worse than ever, for we have proclaimed war on His gift of life. We have legalized mortal sin. Every day, every minute, lives are literally being torn apart. The death toll is in the millions and climbing. Each one was God’s gift. Each one has been killed. And it’s not just the unborn whose lives are being torn apart. Hundred of women who made the wrong choice have died as its direct result. Others have killed themselves. Countless women now live in constant guilt, regret, self-loathing, anger, and depression. They medicate themselves with alcohol and drugs. They cannot have other children because of internal damage. They feel so all alone, so friendless. Yet it continues.
It need not, if we only have the wisdom to remember why we celebrate Christmas. It’s not for the toys. Centuries ago, a poor young girl said yes to God’s gift of life. Trusting in God’s plan, a man tempted to walk away instead walked with her. And on a cold winter’s night Love was born as an infant child. Love grew stronger by the day and became man. On top of a hill years later, Love reached its loftiest height. Christ came so that no one would be lost, so that right would always win. It is the greatest gift of all.
What can we give Him in return? Our greatest heroes are those who have sacrificed the precious gift of life for others. So wisdom tells us what we can give — ourselves. We can end the bloodshed by stopping the war that we started. We can be friends who will not let another walk alone in a time of need. We can help to heal the hearts of those torn apart by abortion. We can fight for justice for the unborn that right will always win. Above all, we can live like and for Him, the Love that never ends.
Amy Grant’s list is truly poignant, but it isn’t truly hers. It is God’s own list sent to us. May we have the wisdom to realize that He’s not asking for too much.
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois, where they raise their six kids.
© Paul V. Esposito 2010. Culture of Life. Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted. Comments? Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/