I have fond memories of my trips to Pap's and Grandma's during the Christmas break. Once the final school week of the year was complete our family would make the eleven hour drive from Roswell, GA to Arden, WV (located in the panhandle). It was a vacation my brother and I looked forward to for months! It didn't matter that the trip took as long as it did; after all, there were fun stops along the way (I remember the purchases of candy and Fun Pads at the Stuckey's on I-81) and restaurants to enjoy when we got hungry. And then, after traversing northern VA for a while, my brother and I excitedly eyed the large, blue-colored metal sign which hung like a proud banner over the interstate. It read: "Welcome to Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia" My brother and I would throw our pillows in the air and shout for joy--we knew we were minutes from our exit, minutes from our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, minutes from Grandma's goodie drawer (filled with Wise-brand chips, cookies and candy), minutes from her fridge stocked with RC Cola, minutes from playing ball in the lot or at the church basketball hoop, minutes from eating Grandma's famous vegetable soup, minutes from playing board games with the family, and minutes from laughing until we'd all lose track of time. We knew we'd make memories and we knew we'd hate to leave when it was time to go. Bottom line? We knew Pap's and Grandma's house was a place of Christmas joy. On our trip to WV it was easy for my parents to witness the looks on their sons' faces--faces which communicated blissful anticipation, gleeful expectation, and hope-filled hearts.
It was hard to wait. And the closer we got to my grandparents' house, the harder it was to remain still...or patient, for that matter.
Eventually we'd arrive. Then, once we'd parked our car in the back of the house, Grandma would usually greet us on the walkway or at the door. Then, the hugs began. Grandma's tears revealed both her relief that we were safe and her happiness to see us once again. We were...well..."home away from home". And everything about the house--the smells, the sounds, the sights and the textures--made all of us feel that this Christmas would yet again be a safe place to be ourselves, experience rest, and refill empty love-tanks.
Being a kid at Pap's and Grandma's house meant that every day was Christmas, whether or not the date on the calendar read December 25th. I can still see myself sitting with Pap in his recliner, smelling his Brut cologne, and helping him remove his work boots after a long day at the packing shed (his orchard business kept him working all hours of the day). I can still see my cousin, who was a gymnast, scale the door frame with her feet and hear the distinct laugh of my aunt whenever I'd say or do something funny. I can still see my family seated around the kitchen table playing Pictionary and I can still see the faces of family and local friends who would enter the family room through the door from the garage. Yes, I can still see my family in my mind's eye. Indeed, I can still see God's love in those holy places inside my grandparents' house.
As children, the pinnacle of our Christmas moments at Pap's and Grandma's was Christmas morning for sure! We would wake up extra early and wonder what gifts awaited us in the family room below. My brother and I were told, by Pap, to sit at the top of the steps until everything was ready for us. My brother and I found it difficult to wait as we sat next to one another in wrinkled pajamas, sporting "bed-head" hair. The anticipation of what awaited us in the family room was almost too much for our young hearts to bear! "Oh boys, looks like Santa's been here for sure! Oh, would you look at that! My goodness it's gonna be a good Christmas. Someone thought a lot of you boys this year!" Pap would exclaim. My brother and I would light up like Christmas trees; our smiles would be the tangible expression of utter joy! Pap's words were too much to bear. Please, no more anticipating, no more waiting, Pap!
No more "antici-waiting"! PLEASE!
Soon, after what felt like hours, Pap gave us the go ahead to run down the stairs and tear into our presents. Minutes later, boxes, ribbon and wrapping paper blanketed the carpeted floor; at the same time, laughter, "thank-you"s, and hugs filled the rest of the room. To my brother's and my thinking, Christmas had finally arrived. And honestly, it was well worth the wait.
It was well worth the "antici-waiting".
My dear friends, Advent represents two gifts: 1) God's gift of Jesus to the world, the first time, as a baby born to a virgin in Bethlehem; 2) the Second Coming of Jesus, the apocalyptic moment in time when the Savior will physically rule his Kingdom and gather his own to himself--forever.
So...are you anticipating this Advent season with joy, like taking a trip to your grandparents' house? Are you waiting patiently, trusting that what the Lord has prepared for you is, without the shadow of a doubt, worth the wait?
Though you won't hear my Pap's words on Christmas morning, I invite you hear Christ's words to you: "Oh dear child, looks like Jesus has been here for sure! Oh, would you look at that! My grace is sufficient for all, especially the poor, the hungry, the sick and the outcast this Christmas. Someone thought a lot of you this year and promises to prepare a place for all my Father's children, a place greater than you could ever imagine! I'm coming back soon! Get ready, precious child of mine! I love you so very, very much!"
Dear friend, the best way to anticipate and wait this Christmas season is by offering yourself on behalf of others, utilizing your spiritual gifts and worshiping the Lord in Spirit and in truth. "Do this, and [truly] live" (Luke 10:28b)!
So go ahead and "antici-wait" on Christ...and celebrate--eagerly! The gift of Christ is yours, both now and when he comes again in glory! I can hardly wait...can you?
"Antici-waiting" Christ the King and his final return with all of you,
><> John 3:30 <><