Marvin had been unusually tired the week leading up to Christmas. Thinking it was just busier than normal at work or something, I dismissed it until one night I woke up and he was missing from our bed. I went looking and found him outside, working on something in the garage!
I asked him about it the next morning and he only smiled and said, "You'll see".
We didn't celebrate Christmas when I was a child. My parents belonged to an unusual religious sect and celebrating any holidays, Christian or otherwise was strictly forbidden. Even though we started celebrating Christmas when I was in high school, it was never truly "magical" until I had kids. On Christmas mornings now, Adult Shelly suddenly disappears and Marvin has one extra kid on his hands!
He always goes the extra mile to make sure there are surprises galore for me, saying he wants to make up for my missing out as a child.
Thursday morning, there was the mysterious garage project, about the size of a large ottoman, with wheels peeking out, parked beside the tree wearing snowman wrapping paper. As the boys sorted through their presents (very few this year, in keeping with the economic crisis), they and I realized that the large, wheeled "thingy" was marked for them, not me! They asked to open it right away and I chimed in because I was dying to see what it was that kept Marvin in the garage in the middle of the night for a week!
As they ripped off the paper, I saw what it was. In complete disbelief at the craftsmanship and creativity, I whispered to Marvin, "Did you build that?" and burst into tears. He had built the boys the most beautiful Lego table I've ever seen. More like a chest, it had a top covered with the Lego platforms, finished trim work, a deep storage drawer on gliders, and casters for portability. He had purchased bulk Lego lots on eBay and filled up the drawer, complete with a stocked tackle box for little extras (hats, swords, wheels, etc.)
Later, out of earshot of the boys, I asked him why he hadn't let me in on the surprise. "My favorite part of Christmas", he told me, "is seeing the light in your eyes. I wanted you to be surprised, too!"
I'm tearing up again, writing this. This man I've been blessed with is so selfless, humble, and loves me more than I'll ever imagine. Except for the grace of God, I'm truly undeserving of all this richness in my life.
We like to say, "Oh, Christmas isn't about the gifts, it's about family." Well, here's a bit of blunt honesty: it IS about the gifts. It's about taking time out of our hectic lives to acknowledge the most incredible gift we've all been given, a Savior to bear the weight of our sins. It's about spending our time thinking of others, what we can choose give them that will bless them in a unique way. It's about giving our children the opportunity to participate in the biggest, most important birthday party ever, and about teaching them how to give to others. Giving our Lord praise for His gift and giving our love to our loved ones.