When my oldest was approaching her ninth birthday, I started asking her what she wanted. Knowing that my children – my girls especially – like homemade gifts, I began asking her over two months early to give myself plenty of time to make something. But, she never really came up with anything. Then suddenly, two weeks before her birthday, she decided that what she really, really, really wanted was a sock doll. Where she came up with this idea, I still do not know. I had never made a sock doll, and had no clue where to begin. So, I began a search for a pattern, finally remembering that I had a sock doll pattern book tucked away on my sewing shelf. I dug it out and set to work.
That first sock doll was a challenge. I didn’t know what I was doing, and the socks I had didn’t match any of the patterns exactly. So, I was kind of making it up as I went along. But in the end, I managed to get the sock doll, a gown, and a dress completed before her birthday. The next year Olivia wanted another sock doll – a boy this time, and the challenge was learning to make doll pants! Then Angela, my middle child, decided she wanted a sock doll for her eighth birthday. Olivia decided that she would step up to the challenge this time and make a sock doll for her little sister.
Which brought us to Christmas. Olivia decided that Angela’s doll needed more than just one dress. So, she determined to make two more dresses and a gown for the doll. Knowing I was helping all three of my children sew gifts for one another on top of my own projects, I encouraged Olivia to choose the simplest pattern for the three outfits – a sleeveless pattern. Sleeves are hard enough for real people clothes. They are a bear for doll clothes! She agreed to the simple pattern for two of the outfits, but she really wanted sleeves on the third one. I reluctantly agreed, but saved that dress for last, holding out hope that Olivia just might change her mind.
But then something occurred to me. When God gave that first Christmas, the sacrifice was enormous. Christ sacrificed His perfect, exalted throne to come clothe Himself in our dying flesh. God sacrificed His Son, knowing that He would have to turn His back on Jesus as He died on that cross.
What does a gift truly mean if there is no sacrifice? If it does not pose some sort of challenge and effort to us, how much love do we truly pour into it?
It was a precious moment when I went back to Olivia and began encouraging her to keep the dress pattern with the sleeves. I explained to her that the extra effort and time that we would give to putting in those sleeves were just one more statement of love toward Angela. Being willing to do something hard would be worthwhile, knowing how much Angela would enjoy that doll dress.
There is no sacrifice we could ever make that would come anywhere near what Christ sacrificed for us that first Christmas. But, I would challenge all of us to consider what we’re willing to sacrifice as we give this year. What are we willing to give up that someone else might know the love of Christ? It might be someone in our family, someone in our church, or even someone we don’t even know. Whoever it may be, may we not back down from the sacrifice. It could be as simple as pouring out that extra measure of love to a family member, but it could also mean pointing a heart to the One who made the greatest sacrifice of all.