My family would make the circuit of friends and grandparents on Christmas Eve in a vain attempt to tire out the children and coax us to sleep on the most exciting night of the year. But the thought, the expectation, of what awaited us in the morning was too much for sleeping.
We had made our lists.
We had dropped the hints.
We had whispered it in the ear of mall Santa Clauses.
We had, for the most part, been good.
We knew what was coming.
It was just a matter of waiting for the morning.
In all of the years that I lived in my parents’ home, the holiday never disappointed. It was a celebration of faith, a fulfillment of wishes, and the nearest thing to pure joy that I could imagine. The church services, the family, the food, and the gifts all made the waiting worthwhile.
For me, the day after Christmas was the first day of waiting for the next Christmas to come. This is not to say that there was no other happiness in my life: I led a charmed existence in a small Texas town where my father was the proprietor of the only grocery store. The connectedness of that small community remains one of the lasting influences of my life. We told stories daily and laughed often as we lived through the ups and downs of rural life. Between the Christmases, we waited patiently for our joy.
Since leaving my parents’ care many years ago, the waiting, and the sleeplessness, of those Decembers have established a pattern. I have come to realize that this is the order of things: first the waiting, and then the joy.
I waited to meet the girl that was waiting to meet me, and then the joy came.
I waited for my children to be born, and then the joy came.
More recently, I waited by my son’s hospital bed as he lay unconscious, and as his weary eyes blinked and then focused on mine the joy came.
The most interesting thing about these events, and many others of my life, is that they very often didn't turn out the way that I expected. In life, sometimes it's not the right girl, and sometimes that thing that you think you want just isn’t going to appear. We exist in a society brimming with people who live under the false idea that the joy will not come. I have lived long enough to lie in bed at night staring at the ceiling and know that there will not be a new bike under the tree, either real or metaphorical. But I cannot let that interrupt my expectation. The greatest of all gifts awaits us if only we can live in the expectation that lies between now and then.
I have to consider the waiting of Mary and Joseph, the virgin and the carpenter, given this job of bringing a miracle into this world. What must the waiting have been like and how great must have been their joy?
I have to remember the disciples and the followers of Jesus enduring the horrible events of that Passover so long ago. What must the waiting for those three days, living in such uncertainty, have been like? And how great was their joy?
In this season of our celebration of the coming of the child, can we pause long enough to live in the expectation of the miracle that he brings to us? And if we can, only for a moment, experience that waiting, perhaps then we can experience the joy as we were intended to.
The connectedness of this community remains one of the lasting influences of our lives. We tell stories daily and laugh often as we live through the ups and downs of modern life. Between the Christmases, we wait patiently for our joy.
Expectation leads to joy and joy is the fulfillment of the promise.
The child has come.
by Scott Adams