In 1988, when Kelli was eight months old, I took her with me to the mall to shop for Kim’s Christmas presents. I discovered that nothing in the world attracts shopping assistance than a cute little baby so the next year I did the same. The following year, 1990, Jennifer (at ten months) joined us and two years later so did nine-month-old Jamie. That year I had two in a double stroller and one in backpack but I was determined to take all three because by then it was a five-year tradition of Dad and Daughter Christmas Shopping Day.
The tradition began in Orlando when I was still practicing architecture. It continued in Atlanta while I was in seminary and most of the shopping was done at a Dollar Store. We’ve spent the day in Baton Rouge, Charleston, San Francisco (Union Square is a great place to shop) and since 2005 right here in Houston.
Today will be our 23rd consecutive year to shop together. There are important tasks to accomplish. Stocking stuffers for Kim (since we began practicing an Advent Conspiracy shopping is much easier) and the all-important “Sister Gifts.” Over the years the gifts our daughters give each other, “Sister Gifts,” have become the highlight of Christmas morning, far surpassing anything the Santa or Mom and Dad may have placed beneath the tree.
But shopping really isn’t the purpose of the day. Today is less about the gifts of presents and more about the gift of presence. Today we will remember that the first gift of Christmas was God's presence with us.
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.
John 1: 14
It was the gift of a relationship built on love and it reminds us that the best gift we can give to those we love is time spent together. You can’t purchase that gift at the mall – though you can experience it there – and it’s about time to head out and enjoy that gift!