Keeping It Real: Embracing the Gift!


The magic of Christmas…its enchantment overwhelms the senses, doesn’t it? The sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes, the warm embrace of those we love…each has a way of diverting our attention from the worries of the world. For that night, it’s as if the holiday wraps us in a warm blanket, reassuring us that all is well.

Some of our sweetest memories are of Christmases gone by. We remember the laughter of loved ones no longer with us. We recall the “life” exuding from cherished moments around the table. As we watch the classics, we find ourselves reminiscing about another time and place, don’t we? How is it that the sights and sounds of Rudolph so easily transport me back to 1972? All over again, I become that enthusiastic little girl in footed pajamas, captivated by the red-nosed reindeer? For all the young chicks, that’s when you tuned into CBS at 8pm that one special night of the year, or you missed it entirely!

As I reflect upon the sweetness of those times, I find something strikingly peculiar. With the abundance of gifts I’ve received through the years, for the life of me, I struggle to recall even a dozen of them by name. Of course, there are those presents that live in infamy, like the year I got the new Shaun Cassidy album. You know, “Da Do Ron Ron.” (Again young chicks, look him up. He was hot!) I played that song so many times Christmas Day that my brothers threatened me within an inch of my life if I dared even hum it again.

Seriously, when I think about it, as great as the gifts were, that’s not what sticks. It’s really the moments that matter. Maybe it’s because Christmas was never supposed to be about gifts we give one another. There’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, giving feeds my joy. I’m simply saying that a fixation on presents was never the essence of Christmas. Somehow, its emphasis got misplaced. For you see, the true magic of Christmas lies in the MIRACLE of the season.

The real gift has already been given, and wow, what a gift! It’s a present like no other. Consider this. The gift of Christmas is more expensive than any present you’ll ever receive. In fact, it’s priceless! The gift of Christmas is the only present that never wears out. It lasts forever. And get this! You can use this gift every day of your life! Actually, I’ve found the more I embrace the gift, the more it transforms every part of who I am. The gift of Christmas is as much yours as it is mine. The gift of Christmas is…Emmanuel. It means “God with us.”

Did you just hear that? The God who carved the mountains with His fingertips and scooped out the oceans with His hand…this God chose to come pitch His tent right here among us. Talk about a demotion! But that’s what love does. Jesus didn’t want to merely possess knowledge of what we faced. He chose to face it with us. He subjected Himself to the most excruciating experiences of life so he could “feel” what we feel. He wanted to walk the journey alongside us, assuring our hearts with every step that we are not alone. Now, that’s a gift worth remembering. It’s a gift worth embracing. It’s the gift that creates the miracle of Christmas.

So, amid all the exchanging of presents this year, let us reflect upon the real gift. Even better, why don’t we embrace this life-giving offer? Embrace the One who loves us enough to extend the most incredible gift! Of all the presents, His Presence matters most. Emmanuel – “God is with us”…so we are never left to walk this journey alone!

For comments or prayer, contact Dr. Lanier at