The last time Jaime and I exchanged Christmas gifts was 2008. No, it’s not because I am a jerk or because we had adopted some new tradition, we had a lot of life hit us over and over. Each year, each holiday, in the silence of the late night, we would both agree to what we believed would be true – “Next year will be different.”
In 2009, we had just welcomed Felicity into our world and wanting to put away the expenses of Felicity’s arrival, we both agreed that getting one another Christmas presents could wait. Before Christmas 2010, we found out Felicity needed to have tubes in her ears to end her chronic ear infections. Our insurance wasn’t much help but the collective efforts of our family and friends were. Jaime and I once again decided that Christmas gifts could wait because “next year would be different.” We put our Christmas money into Felicity’s necessary operation. In 2011, we had barely been back to FL (long story!), we were still figuring out long-term housing and job situations and we were not in a position to spend money on one another. And the following Christmas (2012), Jaime was already gone.
I’ve been thinking on this for the past couple of months because I came across emails Jaime and I sent to one another. Although we both wished we could get a gift for one another, we both mentioned how our health, Felicity’s health, and God’s provision was gift enough. In the beginning, “next year will be better” was about the hope to have “more”, begrudging the situations we found ourselves – believing (unfortunately at times) we were a divine target for misfortune. And when it seemed we couldn’t hit the bottom hard enough, we slowly got it – we understood that it truly wasn’t about hoping for more, or wishing away the “now.” In the most painful moments of our marriage, Jaime and I learned that today…right now could be different, if we allowed God to do a work in our hearts and in our marriage.
In this season, when gift giving and getting seems to be the focus, I pray that I have opportunity to begin to help Felicity to understand something far greater than the wonder of increasing her collection of things. Next year will, without question, be different. Its path begins today, though, by way of the choices we make and in the process of transforming our hearts to mirror the true reason for this season.