My baby just turned four. Four years old. It doesn’t seem like four years have past since I marveled at his perfectly groomed hair and smiled at the sound of his red-faced howl. But it’s been four years and my baby is not a baby anymore.
“When are you going to stop calling him baby, Mom?” asks his ever-inquisitive big brother.
“Never.” I reply.
I planned his birthday celebration carefully—right down to the special yogurt for breakfast.
His family waited in anticipation. Would the gifts we selected bring him pleasure? How would he express it?
As a fiercely independent as he is, his reaction are difficult to predict.
He opened the gift from his brother, chosen with him in attendance and snuck into the cart when the birthday boy’s attention was directed elsewhere.
“It’s what you wanted!” His brother said with a smile.
“I know,” the birthday boy replied as he set it aside for the next thing. His brother’s smile slipped a little.
“Thank you.” He said, and his brother’s smile returned.
The next gift was from Daddy. And old, used toy that had belonged to him and that the baby was always begging to play with. Daddy decided he would rather make his son happy than keep a toy looking nice. He unwrapped it, and with wonder, looked up at his daddy. “It’s just like yours!” He said and got distracted from opening other gifts for a moment while he figured out how it worked.
Mommy picked out something little too. His favorite thing in the whole entire world. The one thing he begs for every time we are at the grocery store and never gets: pink bubble tape. It’s gum. It comes looking like a tape dispenser. The flavor lasts for 3 seconds and it’s price point is disproportionate to it’s contents. He hugged it when it came out of the gift bag.
We loved giving him gifts largely because of his reaction. We would have been disappointed if our gifts, so thoughtfully given, failed to please him either because of his mood or because he didn’t see the value in them. At four, he sees the value in recycled things and gum, but how much longer will such simple things bring him pleasure?
Soon the used and the inexpensive will be looked over while he anticipates the next big thing—the train set wrapped up in green and white.
I will train him, best as I can, to always appreciate the value of the gift. Even if the gift itself has no value, the time, love and consideration of the giver give it value. But sometimes this will be difficult. When socks compete with video games and previously owned robots compete with Lego sets, we will have to have a few talks.
“Be thankful,” I tell him. “Be thankful,” I will continue to tell him.
And I tell myself the same thing.
My heavenly father lavishes me with gifts. I live in a world chock full of them, but so often I skip over the little ones to “ooh” and “ahh” over the big ones. I wish and hope and pray so hard for the miracle, that I miss the millions of tiny gifts that rain on me all day.
I am coming to the realization that the more I appreciate the little things, the more amazed I am by the big thing. When I spend time thanking my Father for my six- year-old’s amazing curiosity and my four-year-old’s bizarre sense of humor, I am all the more floored when I consider the big gift.
And by that I mean the BIG gift.
We have already received the greatest gift of all.
For the wages of sin is death, but the
GIFT OF GOD
is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
“Thank you for the cross,” is the oft repeated phrase in Matt Redman’s song Once Again. “Thank you for the cross. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for the cross, my Friend.”
Thank you for the cross.