Missing Gifts and a Lesson About Love

Gold Brush Stroke

I couldn’t get past the missing gifts. I nearly let their absence ruin our time together.

As usual, we celebrated Christmas early, just the six of us, and with a couple bad-weather days, a few of the kids’ gifts didn’t arrive on time. To make matters worse, my youngest was the one missing the most.


Now we don’t buy heaping piles of presents, so I knew the missing gifts would be…well, missed. For hours I stewed about the lack of things under the tree for my son—certain this was another sign I am a poor mother. Wouldn’t a good mother have ordered early enough or picked up an emergency item or two for just such a circumstance? 

Silly, yes? But my feelings were real.

Cringing at the disappointment sure to be on his young face, I had difficulty mustering up a smile as we unwrapped our exchange gifts. That evening, and the next morning when we opened the main presents, I saw it: a faint shadow of sadness. 

But overshadowing the disappointment, I glimpsed looks and heard words that lifted me from my doldrums: Joy and love and “It’s okay, Mom.” “You didn’t know the weather would be bad.” “The gifts will come later.” “Let’s play…”

Lesson About Love

In the end my boys blessed me with doses of grace I never expected. They humbled me in their understanding of the meaning of Christmas and gift-giving.

Their joy in the giving process and in being together helped me refocus on the fact that Christmas is not about how many things I give or how much I spend.

Giving is only important so far as the heart is involved. And Christmas is about giving love. 


The ultimate demonstration of this? God gave us His Love in the form of an Infant. He gave Himself!

That is our call too. Demonstrate our love by giving of ourselves. 

After all, what can equal the value of love shared? 

That’s what the boys really wanted. Sure presents are nice to receive. But they wanted my laughter, my presence, my heart, my love. They wanted to enjoy time as a family more than they wanted the items that were missing. 

And I nearly let my skewed perspective of what would make my children happy sabotage our Christmas together. What a fool! 

Greatest Gift

God’s greatest gift to us is His love: His Son, His glory, His Kingdom, His heritage as Children of God! He shared His Love with us in the most miraculous of ways. 

In turn, the greatest gift we can give others has nothing to do with a monetary purchase.

The greatest gift we can give others is simply our love. 

God's greatest gift to us is His love, shared in miraculous ways...the greatest gift we can give others is our love. Share on X

Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.” (Colossians 3:14-15)

Reflection: Have you ever had a disheartening situation turn you on to a truth you’ve missed? What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from your children/other children?

Joining multitudes who are taking Ann Voskamp‘s 2013 Joy Dare. Apparently for the month of December, we are not linking up at A Holy Experience, so you’ll have to just enjoy my list (#2397–2417, read the entire list by clicking here):

  • Our old dog; Joey’s enjoyment of his new Lego set–Hobbit, of course; As a family, choosing a Christian aid org. to gift
  • Christmas Eve candlelight service; Church followed by an evening of laughter and music; Wonder of Christmas
  • The greatest Gift–Jesus Christ; 40 family members all together for Christmas; Wonder and innocence of little children
  • Kids making memories with Grandma; Once a year oyster stew; 40 family members all together-lots of laughter & grace extended
  • Skiing for 1st time since knee was injured-felt great!;Ordered CD cover design; Meeting interesting people on chairlifts
  • Family snowball fight; Steady editing for the near future; Watching Hobbit 2 with my guys–Rach refused to go
  • New beginnings; A church family I enjoy so much I have to be escorted out of church by my boys :); One Word challenge


By His Grace,



  1. Brent Peterson on January 1, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Good and timely post Julie. I just realized I wasn’t receiving your updates because my email address changed. My bad! I re-subscribed. Problem solved :). To answer your question about a lesson from our kids, I will draw on my own experience recently when I was reminded that living in the present (and not comparing the moment to the past or some future possibility) is a key to happiness. Here are my thoughts in further detail…

    • Julie Sunne on January 1, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      I remember that wonderful post you wrote, Brent! Such an important lesson for us parents/adults to remember as it is easy to get cynical with age. Thank you for re-subscribing. I’ve missed your insightful comments lately.

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Julie Sunne

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's blessings to get lost in its happenings. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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