Merry, Christmas, Superkid!,
I am excited that it’s Christmas, and I am fairly certain you are too. I have seen many Christmases come and go; each one special, each spent with family and friends being mindful of how much Jesus loves us and how much we love Him. This year, however, I have a new expectation of Christmas. I think this one will be different. :: I am going to look for the pickle.
I know. You’re probably wondering, What in the world is she talking about? A pickle?
Let me explain by telling you about one of our family traditions.
Decorating the Christmas tree is one of my favorite things to do. We have about a thousand ornaments, most of them are blown glass from Germany that I spent years collecting. They are very fragile. But, I’m not so sure my kids enjoyed hanging them, because almost every year at least one would get broken as we decorated. And because there were so many, I’d often lose my decorating crew as they grew tired. So, I’d end up hanging ornaments until well into the night. But I didn’t mind.
As I brought out each one, I’d recall who gave it to me or where I had gotten it. Often, the last ornament left to hang was a pickle. Yes, that’s right. A pickle. It was not a pretty ornament, and sometimes I wondered why I would even hang it on my tree. I once heard a story about people in Germany hanging a pickle on their Christmas tree. The first child to find the pickle would get an extra present.
So when my kids were small, we started our own tradition: Whoever found the pickle on Christmas morning got to open the first present. On Christmas morning, down the stairs they would come, sleepy-eyed, but ready to peer through the branches and around the one thousand ornaments—looking for the pickle.
It’s a funny thing about traditions and where they start. I have since learned that Germans don’t even do that! But we did! And today, the kids even have their own pickle ornaments.
So, where did that tradition really come from? No one seems to know. Perhaps some ornament salesman came up with that story because he had a lot of pickles to sell. Or maybe a mother decorating her tree looked at that pickle ornament and thought, That sure is an ugly ornament. How can I hang it, but not have to see its green, bumpy presence all season long. I know, I’ll hide it!
However it originally started, it became a well-loved tradition in our house.
Today it has taken on a different meaning for me. Every year, we fill up the space beneath, beside and around our tree with gifts. In fact the entire living room seems filled with gifts—wonderful and fun things we found to make our loved ones feel special and well loved. We open them in sort of an organized frenzy as we laugh, joke and express thanks and love.
When all is said and done, cleaned up and put away, it isn’t the “things” we walk away with that matter. It’s the things we walk away with in our hearts that are the real gifts. What would happen if those were the gifts we were actually looking for when we woke up Christmas morning? Like my children who ran downstairs, not looking to find the many gifts under the tree but were looking for the ugly pickle in the tree. We could face Christmas, not with thoughts of what we might find under the tree, but what we might find in our friends and family. Not with thoughts of what stuff we want to give to others, but how we can give of ourselves to the ones we love. The hidden things are the precious things.
We have a wonderful Savior—Jesus. He is Christmas! The wonderful gift from the Father. The King of kings and Lord of lords. But He didn’t come to us as a king, or a wonder or a spectacular warrior to defeat the enemies of God’s people. He was hidden. A small baby born in a stable. Wise men and shepherds had to go looking for Him. He is the gift. He can be searched for and found. He can be found by others in us, and found by us in others. We just have to look for Him.
Are you looking for Him? He’s looking for you.
In Jeremiah 29:14 (New Living Translation) God told His people, “I will be found by you.” Luke 11:9 says, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (NLT).
I have decided that this Christmas, I will look for the gifts that are hidden, the ones that are not under the tree.
When you are looking for Jesus you will find Him.
A green pickle in a green tree is not going to stick out if you are not looking. But it is amazing how quickly, amidst a thousand other things, my kids could find that hidden ornament. It’s because they were looking. And they were looking because it had extra value.
That was just a pickle. Jesus is EVERYTHING! Meeting Him face to face is not just asking Him into your heart and learning about Him on Sunday. Superkid, He is EVERYTHING! He is worth the extra effort to find Him—in everything, in every situation.
This Christmas don’t look for the obvious gifts under the tree—look for Jesus. Look for Him in the times you have with family, and you will find Him. Look for Him in the many ways you can give Him away to others. You will find Him. Like the shepherds, look for Him as the One to bring you peace and favor and grace. You will find Him.
Say this out loud: “Jesus, I seek Your face. I am looking for You today and I know You are looking for me. I will be found by You. And I will help others find You by giving You away. I will let them see You in me, in the way that I talk, play, help and love. Thank You for coming to the earth that Christmas so long ago. Thank You for not staying hidden from us.”
Find the pickle this year. Find the hidden gifts in each other. Find the grace and love that Jesus gives. I love you, Superkid. You are a gift from Jesus to me. You are better than a pickle!
*Article taken from December 2015 issue of BVOV Magazine. Read the PDF version here.