This year, we will celebrate our first Christmas with our new grandson, Titus. I don’t know who’s more excited about hanging up the newest stocking on our fireplace mantle, his Grammy or me. Having a new little one in our family has renewed our outlook on life. We get giddy every time we hear his parents pull into our driveway.
Titus has awakened feelings in this old missionary that have long been dormant. I’d forgotten what it was like to have the tiniest hand grasp your finger as he lies sleeping in your lap and you realize nothing this side of Heaven can break that bond. I’d forgotten the feeling of hearing a little one laugh as you make a motor boat sound with your lips and his joy becomes yours. And I’d forgotten the joy of watching this little person experience so many areas of life for the first time.
Yes, my life has changed since Titus arrived. Whenever I go shopping, I find myself unashamedly wandering through the baby department, reading the labels on diaper packages and shaking rattles to see if they’re strong enough. Just a note: Don’t ask a clerk in the front of the store where the diapers are unless you want to hear the question, “Baby or adult?”
I find myself examining the construction of a playpen, stroller or anything else we think about purchasing to see if it meets “Poppy’s Standard.” I know there are many product reviews online. But even the detailed listings of Consumer Reports are not as good or as reliable as Poppy’s Standard. What “Angie’s List” is to plumbers, contractors and dentists is what Poppy’s Standard is for anything related to my grandson.
My wife and I have already bought a Christmas ornament and a bib with the words “Baby’s First Christmas” emblazoned across the front. Being eager first-time grandparents, I think we purchased both items in September. In fact, his Grammy began shopping for Titus within an hour of hearing he was on the way. If our shopping continues as it’s going right now, for every present under our Christmas tree for our sons and “daughters–in-love,” Titus will have three.
Since my grandson is only three months old, he can’t write out his Christmas list or climb up on Poppy’s lap to whisper in my ear about the things he would like to receive. He can’t pull out a catalogue and show me pictures of his favorite toys and other items. I look forward to those days, but for now, I’ll just have to guess. The reality is that by the time next Christmas comes around, Titus won’t remember anything he got last year or how much energy his Poppy used to find just the right gifts. To tell the truth, I’m getting to the age where I can tell you what I got in 1982, but don’t remember what I got last Christmas. My grandson and I make a good match.
But Titus is not the only child who changed my life. Another child transformed it forever, and He was born more than 2,000 years ago. Right now, I’m pondering what this Child wants. He’s the One this season is all about: the Christ Child. His Father didn’t give him a high-quality birthplace. It wasn’t a private maternity suite at an upscale hospital, but a place of business where people could rent out stalls to house their livestock. This baby didn’t receive a bib that said, “My First Christmas,” although if anyone ever deserved it, He did.
What does this Child want? He wants you. Why did He leave the heavenlies and come to Earth? Because of you. Why did He die on a cross in your place? Because of you. He wants you to give Him all of your heartache, your pain, your wicked ways, your depression, your hopelessness, your hatred, your confusion, your disappointments and your loneliness.
What does the Christ Child want? He wants to give you life: incredible life, joyful life, meaningful life, overflowing life, abundant life. Like Titus, the baby Jesus couldn’t give us a list of what He wanted. But later, the Apostle John recorded His true desire: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
In this season, we should take time to shout the good news to the world: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
I can’t wait until I can tell Titus this news and share with him what the Christ Child wants. That’s the only gift that matches not only Poppy’s Standard, but the heavenly Father’s, too.