This week marked my annual attempt at domesticity, the one time of year where I actually break out the Kitchen-aid and pretend I know my way around the kitchen. I usually pick something that is easy to make, difficult to mess up, and of course, super yummy to eat. This year, however, I had something else to factor in – an enthusiastic “helper,” one that might actually believe me if I told him I taught Betty Crocker everything she knows!
My usual holiday repertoire consists of goodies that involve nothing more than compiling ingredients together and throwing them in the oven for a set time (think chocolate chip cookies, nutty “barks,” and trail mixes). But with a Christmas-spirit-filled toddler in the house, holiday sugar cookies seemed like the most obvious choice for this year.
I was excited for C to be involved in every step of the process, primarily because I wanted him to really experience the act of giving this Christmas. (An unrelated, secondary reason is because I’m hoping one day a long time from now his future wife will appreciate me for showing her husband how to turn on a mixer…) I knew that with his “help,” the results would be a far cry from something you’d find on the cover of Good Housekeeping. But I also knew that the more he participated, the more likely for him to make the connection that we give gifts to show our love, just like God gave us his Son.
After a few minor glitches involving multiple recipes and an emergency phone call to my mother-in-law (who actually MIGHT have taught Betty Crocker everything she knows…), the end results were…fair. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give them a 7 for taste, an 8 in texture, and a 10 in sprinkles per square inch! By the end of the evening the entire family was covered in flour, and the kitchen floor was a minefield of red-hots.
And just like every other time I try to “teach” C some sort of moral or life lesson, watching him made me realize that my child’s heart actually understands the concept far too well, and it’s my grown-up heart that needs to learn a thing or two. For instance, I think we as adults (myself included) forget that giving is a JOYFUL thing to do! But how many times do we complain about long lines in stores, costs of shipping, and how may gifts we have to buy in so little time? Not C. His heart was exploding with joy as he painstakingly prepared each cookie, smushing red-hots onto snowmen, and dumping sprinkles onto stars. There was no holding back, and no keeping track of which person was getting a better gift than someone else, or wondering whether this person would give him a gift in return. He was all in – if love could be measured with sprinkles, then all who partake of these cookies will certainly have hearts that are full!
In light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut, the concept of joyful giving is especially poignant this year. This Christmas, let us remember that it is a PRIVILEGE to give, not a chore. As our pastor said this past Sunday, “Nobody ever looks back at their life and reflects, ‘I wish I would have given less.'” Let’s shower those we love with not just obligatory monetary gifts, but gifts of kind words, big hugs, and quality time.