I must have been about 10 years old when I decided I needed and deserved an electric race car set for Christmas.
Mom and us 5 kids, me on the right, 1966
Our neighbors Craig and Wally always seemed to get more and better stuff than we did. This year I was not to be denied.
I informed mom of what I wanted. So when Christmas came and the race car set was not under the tree, I was sour. My Christmas spirit was hampered by my dissatisfaction about not getting what I wanted.
So I reminded my mother that I had asked for that race car set and communicated I was not at all happy that it had not been under the tree. I implored her to get one for me as soon as possible and I let her know that I was not going to be happy until she complied.
Now my mother was no pushover. She was a strong-willed woman raising five spirited children. We knew she loved us, but that did not typically mean that we would get our way whenever we demanded. But for some reason in this case, she relented. A few days after Christmas she took me to the store and bought me a race car set.
The problem was, acquiring that race car set didn’t bring the joy and fulfillment that I had anticipated. In fact, I soon began to feel guilty that I had been a brat about the whole thing and gave my loving mother a hard time. I played with the race cars some, but they were never all I thought they would be.
Now, nearly fifty years later I look back with embarrassment at my ten-year-old brattish unpleasantness. How immature to demand my own way. How foolish to think that a toy was so important in the first place
The good news is that I began to learn an important lesson: stuff does not fulfill us.
For that matter, neither does accomplishment, acquisition, fame, power or any of the other things that are supposed to bring fulfillment.
The author of Ecclesiastes (probably Solomon) found this out. After becoming one of the richest, most powerful, most sexually unrestrained men who ever lived, he concluded, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2b).
I’m grateful that I began to learn this lesson at the early age of 10. In fact, maybe my worstChristmas ever was my best Christmas learning experience: It is not the stuff of Christmas that satisfies. It is loving the Christ of Christmas and loving others which truly satisfy.
Hummmm, maybe mom conceded to my demand in order to teach me a wonderful lesson?