This Advent season is like no other. Many of us have altered how we will celebrate Christmas. In our household there have been some discussion about how to handle gifts – our boys are at the age where experiences were more the standard gift than a thing. It has us a bit perplexed – needing to exercise our creative muscles – perhaps we can see it as an opportunity. With all this conversation and pondering I have been reflecting on what gifts have been given in years past. I keep a little folder with letters to Santa, gift lists for grandparents and such along with my list of who received what each year.

I found in this folder a copy of an Ann Weems poem from her book Kneeling in Bethlehem. In seeing it, I recalled using it a few years ago as our sons were getting older. Reading it as a devotion before dinner several times that December it helped me share words I hoped would convey to them how much bigger this season is than the gift giving. I recall thinking it could become a tradition as the boys return home from college and beyond in the coming years, my wish for their lives. I find it even more special this year.

What I’d really like to give you for Christmas is a star…
Brilliance in a package,
     something you could keep in the pocket of your jeans or in the pocket of your being
something to take out in times of darkness.
     something that would never snuff out or tarnish
     something you could hold in your hand,
     something for wonderment
     something for pondering
     something that would remind you of what Christmas has always meant:
     God’s Advent Light into the darkness of this world….
But stars are only God’s for giving
     And I must be content to give you words and wishes and packages without stars.
But I can wish you life
     as radiant as the Star
     that announced the Christ Child’s coming
     and as filled with awe as the shepherds who stood beneath its light
And I can pass on to you the love
     that has been given to me
     ignited countless times by others
    who have knelt in Bethlehem’s light,
Perhaps, if you ask, God will give you a star.