Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Flashback Re-Post


This week my kids are having a Secret Santa gift exchange at school. They are each figuring out ways to bless the person whose name they have drawn while keeping their own identities hidden. Such fun.

Their Secret Santa thing took me back to my own youth. I think I must have been in fourth grade when I first played the Secret Santa game at school. I was so excited by the whole idea, and as the teacher walked around the room with the basket of names, I had only one request: "Anyone but Harold, anyone but Harold, anyone but Harold," I silently prayed, as I reached up to draw a name.

Harold was, well, not very popular, to say the least. His thin hair was a little on the overgrown side and horribly greasy. His clothes always looked two sizes too big and way past their prime. He had a persistently runny nose, an annoying personality, and total disdain for personal hygiene. I wasn't particularly mean to Harold, but I did not go out of my way to be nice to him either. And I certainly did not want to spend my Christmas season shopping for presents for Harold. No-sir-ee! Anyone but Harold would be fine with me.

I pulled out the folded slip of paper and waited for the teacher to move on before opening it. Stealthily covering the name with my hand, I peeked to see who I had drawn. Harold. My heart sank. I glanced over at him, only to see him wiping his nose on his sleeve before reaching into the basket himself. Yuck.

At recess all of my friends were talking about whose names they had drawn. I didn't want to tell them, for fear I might be shunned. I haughtily told them thatSECRET Santa meant that we weren't supposed to tell, and kept the name I had drawn to myself. I contemplated throwing the slip of paper away and "forgetting" about the whole thing. But even my calloused heart couldn't execute that plan when I imagined everyone in the class having a treat from a secret pal except for poor Harold.

I pouted all afternoon, disappointed that I would have to be Harold's Secret Santa for two long weeks. One thing I determined for sure--I would be the Secretest Santa EVER, for I certainly did not want to be caught doing anything nice for the class outcast.

When I got home, I began to explain to my parents the tragedy of my day. I somehow expected them to sympathize with my plight--no such luck. They were (rightfully) appalled at my uncharitable attitude and insisted that I take a gift for Harold every single day of the Secret Santa game. Not only that, they took me to Winn's to hand select each item, and then home to wrap so that every gift was ready to go--one a day--until Christmas break. They were determined that Harold was going to be spoiled by his conceited Secret Santa.

I remember trying to be the first one to class each day so that I could slip Harold's gift into his not-so-cute handmade stocking without being seen. Day after day, Harold's stocking was loaded. He was the only kid in class who got a gift every day--which was quite a shock to everyone, including Harold. He loudly (and obnoxiously) paraded his loot around for all to see, as if he had accomplished something great by simply finding a treat in his stocking.

I was counting the days for school to get out so that I could be finished with my task. At the same time, I was dreading the moment when I would have to reveal that I had been the one filling Harold's stocking with all the goodies. I was no dummy--I knew that it would be instantly assumed that I was IN LOVE with Harold, and I would be the victim of playground teasing for the duration of fourth grade. Such agony.

Finally the moment came when all Secret Santas uncovered their true identities. Actually, only a few had managed to remain anonymous for a fortnight, but I was one of the few. When I quietly owned up to having been Harold's Secret Santa, I was not surprised by the "ooooooooooohhhhhhhhs" that rumbled through the classroom. Giggling and knowing glances rippled across the rows of desks, as my face turned beet red. I wanted to shout, "My parents made me do it!" But just then, Harold caught my eye. He had a look of gratitude like I had never seen before, and he ever so subtly gave me a nod of "thanks." I didn't know Harold had subtlety in him. I certainly had never witnessed it before. Almost imperceptibly, I nodded "you're welcome" back.

Mercifully, the Christmas Break dulled the memory of the Harold thing for most of my classmates, and the dreaded playground taunting was never realized. Well, almost never. For the rest of the year Harold followed me around, declaring his undying love for me everywhere I went. All subtlety was gone. Funny thing is, it didn't really bother me. I can't say I returned his love, but I endured it fairly kindly.

As I look back on my Secret Santa experience I can't help but wonder where Harold is today, and hope that he not only has a blessed Christmas, but that he has found someone to return his love. Even better, I hope he has found the One whose love makes life worth living. Because if the truth be told, I AM a Harold: dirty with sin, poor in spirit, and frankly, obnoxious at times. Yet, in my unlovable state, my Savior died for me. He fills my life each day with gifts I don't deserve, and sometimes I parade them around as if I have accomplished something great on my own. He gives, and gives, and gives. And while I can give Him nothing in return, I want to spend the rest of my life following Him around, boldly declaring my love for Him. The best part is, He really loves me back.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you reposted this! What a wonderful example of Christ's love for us- ALWAYS. How often we unthankfully receive His many gifts and then walk around proudly as if we earned them. What a great story. Thanks so much :)