You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father's face and tell him you have received his Christmas gift.
John R. Rice
Countless little girls across America might have penned a letter to Santa or climbed up into his lap asking him to deliver an Easy-Bake Oven to their house that particular year. Resplendent in turquoise blue, complete with bowls, baking tins, and yummy little cake and frosting mixes, it was many a child’s dream. It was the year after Kenner had introduced their miniature wonder – the Easy-Bake Oven captured hearts and imaginations and sold over 500,000 units in just two months upon its release. Many little bakers were fortunate to have their wish for Christmas granted. I wasn’t one of them.
I don’t recall a lot of stories from childhood, but I’ll never forget my Easy-Bake Oven story. I was five that year, living in a suburb of Minneapolis. I’m not exactly sure when and how I learned about the child-centric modern wonder, but I was desperate to get one. I didn’t ask for another thing. “Please, Santa, all I want for Christmas is an Easy-Bake Oven, and make mine blue.” I never learned why Santa didn’t bring it. He had vanished from life for another 364 days, and I could only wonder why that amazing gift was withheld from me.
I was a shy and quiet little girl. Once school resumed at the close of Christmas vacation, I learned that one of my girlfriends in the neighborhood had received an Easy-Bake Oven from Santa. You can imagine the sheer dismay I felt when I found out that she hadn’t even asked him for it! Everything became clear to me at that moment. Santa had made a mistake! It was cold and dark; he was tired and too busy when he mistakenly put my oven under her Christmas tree!
I don’t recall how many days passed as I contemplated the dilemma, but the misery of it was tormenting. What was a girl to do? Finally, I got up the courage and did the unthinkable. I walked down the street to my friend’s house on a chilly winter evening, climbed the front steps, rang the doorbell and attempted to claim what was rightfully mine. I don’t recollect the explanation, but I was headed home empty-handed. Devastated. Today, the mere thought of it makes me smile, but at the time it was a heartbreak beyond belief. My heart longed for that amazing toy that baked darling little cakes by shining a lightbulb on some batter.
Over three decades had passed since my sad journey home without the oven in my arms. And as life went on, those years were filled with lots of abundance, some beauty and joy, along with more heartbreaks and pain. I see now God’s presence in my Christmas when I was five. He allowed the early heartbreak of a gift undelivered. Instead of the gift I thought I so desperately needed, He gave me a sweet story instead.
The Easy-Bake Oven story didn’t end when I was five. One day I would receive the gift I had been longing for all those years ago. It was 37 Christmases later.
But even before that, I had received the Father’s Christmas gift. And when that happened, all of the stories of my life became infused with new sweetness and meaning. The gift of the precious baby in the manger changed everything.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:10–12 (NIV)