(I love to post this story every Christmas. Enjoy it again!)
I waited impatiently along with my sister Karen and brother Chuck at the closed door leading into the living room where we could imagine the sparkling Christmas tree awaiting us. Nine-year-old Karen murmured, “I can’t wait to get my new bicycle. I just know it’s under the tree.”
Then it was time. We sprinted into the living room and gasped with delight. The tree blazed with colored lights. Karen’s eyes scanned over the gifts, some wrapped, some not. But there wasn’t any bike standing by the tree. I heard her murmur Where is it? and knew her heart felt heavy with disappointment. But I could also see that she was trying to push her disappointment aside as she grabbed the unwrapped doll sitting on top of her pile. It was the doll she wanted—but it wasn’t the bike!
From my vantage point, I could see Karen’s bike over by the front door next to the hall closet. Even though I wondered why she didn’t see it, I was too engrossed in my own gifts to say anything.
“Karen,” I heard our mother call, “please go to the hall closet and get me one of the folding chairs.”
“But Mommy, I’m not done with my presents…” Our mother’s warning look stopped her whine. She got up slowly. “Oh, OK.” I knew she wanted to scream, “Where’s my bike?” as I saw tears pooling in her eyes. She had been talking for months about getting that bike for Christmas.
Karen walked across the small living room to the hall closet and jerked open the closet door.
Tugging at the chair inside, she pulled it out and carried it to where her mother sat. “Thanks, honey,” her mother grinned.
Moments later, Karen’s shoulders slumped as she reached for her last present which wasn’t her bike.
“Karen, if you’re done opening your presents, what do you say?” her mother asked.
“Thanks for my presents. They’re nice.” But they aren’t my bike, I knew she really wanted to say but knew better. We all did.
Then our mother spoke up again, “Karen…” but started laughing before she could say anything more. Before she could control herself, our father had burst into laughter too.
Mom’s giggling subsided and then she said, “Karen, would you please go to the closet again and stand there?”
She obediently trudged toward the closet and then jolted to a stop. There, right in front of her, leaning against the opposite wall, was her shiny, red bike decorated with a big red bow! As she stood transfixed with her mouth agape, we all roared with laughter.
“Honey, why didn’t you see it before?” mommy called out. “It’s been there the whole time. That’s why I interrupted you with that silly task.”
Karen jumped onto her new bike’s red plastic seat that sported bright yellow sunflowers. “I guess I was so disappointed when I didn’t see it under the tree that I just didn’t notice it over here.” She paused. “But it’s here! My bike! I love it!” She ran to mommy and daddy and hugged them.
I’ve always remembered that Christmas morning. Karen thought the bike would be under the tree and her ability to see it was blocked by her locked expectations.
When I get disappointed by life and other people, even God, I’m reminded how blessings are often all around me but I just don’t see them. I’m expecting them in a certain way—under the tree not sitting by the closest door.
I must be open to God’s unusual and creative ways to bless me and others. He knows what’s best.
How about you?
Have a blessed Christmas because of hidden gifts!
(PS Thanks to my sister Karen for always letting me tell this story!)