Ah, the Christmas season! The lights, the music, the smiles, and the chestnuts roasting on an open fire. (C’mon. Do I even know anyone who roasts chestnuts on any fire?) But I can not deny that even though it is not yet a week into December Christmas is in full swing.
In our house that means that Turtle Sunday is not too far away. A number of years ago we started to make candy to give away to people. It started with peanut brittle which at that time meant spending hours (it seemed) stirring and stirring and stirring to get the mixture at just the right temperature to only add some more ingredients and start the stirring all over again.
Then came the microwave, yes we have done this for quite a few years, which expanded our ability to make candy. Since then we have added a few more including almond, peppermint and cinnamon barks, peanut butter balls, Granny’s candy (a toffee crunch), haystacks, and the crowning jewel –turtles. The pictures above the title are close to the method my wife has perfected over the years. However, those people have yet to discover that starting with a puddle of chocolate and then the pecans will keep the caramel from sticking to everything including clothing.
As each year passes, some of the thrill of turtle Sunday has waned, at least for me. But first a qualifier. While I help in making the turtles and in a lot lesser degree, with some of the other candy, my wife does the great bulk of the work. That being said, the gift making process is turning into a chore. Admitting that is weighing on me this year.
I think part my ambivalence toward turtles, or any other kind of candy-making, grows from all the ideas about gift giving. At this time of the year there is an abundance of “helpful” guidance floating around on television, talk shows, blogs and endless lists of “Guidelines for Gift giving.” For me, all this information has just left me with a lot of questions.
To whom do I give a gift or send a Christmas greeting? To everyone I know or to just the ones who are in that special group? And what are the prerequisites that allow entrance into that group? Do I dare send or buy something for someone with whom I am upset, or they are upset with me? How much is too much or too little to spend?
Then there is what to buy. Should I give a gift that I want the person to have or something that they want? There may be a huge difference and that can become an issue. I think I am too caught up in the stuff rather than the gift. And when I start in the wrong place I really create a mess.
So if my goal is to go into Turtle Day with a proper attitude I need to look to my God and what I can find out about him from the Bible. Two sections in particular stuck with me as I read through his word. One is 1 John 4:8 which says “God is love.”
Those are only three words. Three words which tells me that all of his actions come from who he is and not because of who I am, what I look like or what I have ever done in my life. All he does and allows to happen flows out of love. What an example for me.
The second section is a little longer in Ephesians 1: ” 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
I know there is a lot here but I am drawn to the words, “before the creation of the world.” Prior to God creating the world, before I ever existed, he knew I would fall far short of his standard for my life–perfection. So he set a plan in place to send Jesus to pay for all of my sins. Since he knew I needed saving, like all people do, he was also aware of all the sins I would commit. He still he sent his son to die for me. Why? Not because he saw some worth in me, but out of his love.
I cannot comprehend that part. It would be as though my wife and I would spend the hours of Turtle Day, carefully “creating” the candy and then giving it to someone who we knew was going to throw half of it away, feed the other half to their dogs, and then they would tell others about how terrible the candy tasted. Why would we spend the time and effort for someone who would treat our gift so poorly.
But I know that is what God did for me, and everyone else. He sent that best of all Christmas gifts for me, Jesus, knowing I would continue to sin even after coming to faith. His love really came to our world that night and spent 33 years living out that love. The goal–to die and pay for my sins and even for the sins of those who crucified him.
With all that love shown to me, can I really find making some candy burdensome? Do I really need to fret about the type of gift I give or consider looking for the gift too much trouble. Or do I simply say thank you by responding to his love and sharing that same love with others? I do not think that is hard to answer.
So bring on Turtle Sunday! I have to admit that even though it does get tiring, the final product is really delicious. If I remember, I will post a picture of our Turtle Sunday. If you want to see, come on back. I will wait you.
The Christmas music for this post is a little older. How Many Kings by Downhere was first released in 2009. The words talk about that unequaled, forever love of our God. I hope you enjoy it.