Undeserved Gifts

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”~~Charles Dickens

Today’s word of the day, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is metagnomy, ” The acquisition of information by paranormal means; divination, clairvoyance.”

Today is Egg Nog Day! And we have Egg Nog, because I bought some at the store last Sunday. I must be sure to have some this evening, at the Christmas Eve festivities. I put a drop or two of brandy in mine. What do you put in yours?

We had the most wonderful time last night!

Oh, but wait. I have to start this story correctly. At around 9:30 or 10:00, yesterday morning, our manager got a call from our client, telling us that we were to turn away UPS and FedEx deliveries, for the rest of the year! Needless to say, we were all stunned, because there are still four more working days in this year (yesterday made five). I also received an email from the same guy instructing me to not process any more URDNs until after January 2. URDN means “Unreceivable Discrepancy Notice.” It’s what I do. I handle the “problem children.” Anyway, there we sat, suddenly with nothing to do. We were told we could go ahead and finish up anything we received on Tuesday. That took about thirty minutes. So I got approval from my manager to leave at noon. That would fulfill the minimum of four hours that I have to work in order to get paid for the holidays. I’m already scheduled off next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so I won’t be back until Thursday, December 31, and may only stay four hours that day.

Then I went to Arlington and had lunch with Christi. We ate at Damian’s Cajun Soul Cafe, one of the places she has discovered while working at USBC. I had fried fish, which was delicious, the best I’ve had in a very long time. Christi had a smothered pork chop, which was also quite good (she gave me a bite). The place must be doing great, because it was constantly crowded, the whole time we were there.

We had decided that we would go look at Christmas lights last night, depending on if I had to work late. Since I got to work the opposite of late, we started looking on the Interwebs to see where would be a good place to go look. It was there that we discovered that they have a huge display set up at Texas Motor Speedway, called “Gift of Lights.” It’s a drive through display with millions of lights and hundreds of different kinds of displays, ranging from the patriotic to sports themes to traditional Christmas. There were even a few Hanukkah displays. It costs $25 per car, and if you pay online and print your ticket, you get to skip a VERY long line to get in. It took about an hour to drive through. We took a few pictures, which Facebook conveniently arranged in a collage for me. I have set it for public viewing, so if you care to see it, you can click here.

Today, of course, is Christmas Eve. Christi’s family will be over, this evening, for dinner and gift exchange. That’s pretty much all I’m going to say about that, because, you know, “if you can’t say something good . . .” 🙂 I’m going to try and make it to our church’s Christmas Eve service, which will be at 5:00PM. If you’re in the area and find yourself with nothing to do around that time, come check it out. We are The Exchange Church.

On this date in:

1777–Kiritimati, also known as Christmas Island, was discovered by James Cook
1851–The Library of Congress burned (when “library” and “burned” are used in the same sentence, I am traumatized)
1865–The Ku Klux Klan was formed. On Christmas Eve??? Seriously????
1906–The first radio broadcast was transmitted by Reginald Fessenden. It consisted of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech. The real questions is: Was anyone still awake when it was over?
1955–NORAD tracked Santa for the first time
1968–The crew of Apollo 8 became the first humans to orbit the moon

Today’s birthdays include:

1809–Kit Carson, American frontiersman
1880–Johnny Gruelle, American cartoonist, creator of Raggedy Ann
1893–Harry Warren, American composer/lyricist, “Chattanooga Choo Choo, I Only Have Eyes for You”
1905–Howard Hughes, American film producer and inventor
1910–Fritz Leiber, American fantasy/science fiction writer
1922–Ava Gardner, American actress
1927–Mary Higgins Clark, American author, A Stranger is Watching
1968–Doyle Bramhall II, American guitarist
1971–Ricky Martin, Puerto Rican singer
1974–Ryan Seacrest, American TV host

Harry Warren was born Salvatore Antonio Guaranga, in Brooklyn, New York. He has a list of hits that he co-wrote, which includes the above mentioned “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” as well as “Forty-Second Street,” “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby,” and this song:

Vasco da Gama, Johns Hopkins, Peter Lawford, Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, Bobby LaKind, Norman Vincent Peale, and Johnny Oates are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Daily Guideposts 2015)

“For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
John 4:37-38

Writer Mark Collins writes of a tradition in Pittsburgh, known as “the Pittsburgh parking chair.” This tradition is not well known down here, in Texas, because, well, snow. Enough snow that shoveling out parking places is necessary. You see, in this Pittsburgh (and other northern states) tradition, if a person shovels out a parking space for their car, they reserve it by placing an object, usually a folding chair, in that space. It’s not a “legal” thing, but it is respected. If you find a parking space and something odd is sitting in it, a folding chair, a vacuum cleaner, a garbage can, sawhorse, or anything else, you don’t park there.

While it might seem selfish, especially in the season of gift-giving, Collins reminds us of the difference between gifts and things that are earned. If you do the hard, back-breaking work of shoveling out a parking space, you have earned that, it is rightfully yours. Therefore, it is most definitely not selfish to place a chair in it to reserve it for your car.

Gifts, however, are undeserved. That’s the whole point of a “gift,” isn’t it? Perhaps we are more selfish by expecting gifts at Christmas time. But the fact that gifts (and grace) are undeserved is what makes them special. What we truly deserve is a stocking full of coal. But what we got was forgiven. The greatest gift of all: all of our sins washed away forever.

I know I don’t deserve that.

Christmas is tomorrow. I wish that, for just one day, we could all set aside what we think we deserve and revel in the gift of grace that we have received that we did not deserve. We celebrate the birth of Christ, something that we are not told in Scripture to do. Nevertheless, it has become a tradition. Let us, along with that, celebrate the undeserved gift of forgiveness.

Father, let me not forget this gift, this undeserved grace that has been lavished upon me and my brothers and sisters in Christ. As we gather together this evening to exchange physical, material gifts, may we remember the intangible, the non-material gift that we have all been given. The one we deserve the least.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.