“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I learned a long time ago if I had little to no expectations, the disappointment of not receiving what I hoped for wouldn’t be as painful.

I lost hope the Christmas I was in the 6th grade. I was one of those kids who would sneak and unwrap the gifts under the tree, carefully taping them back together after I had a peak of what was to be mine on Christmas morning. I lost hope the Christmas I was in the 6th grade. Serves me right, huh?

I had coveted a navy blue Izod sweater our adult neighbor wore…it didn’t just have the little alligator on the left side, it had this huge alligator in the entire center of the sweater, but it was woven into the sweater with no extra color – it was subtle yet Izod bold…I can still picture it on the neighbor.

It was a very unrealistic gift for a 12 year old whose parents always ensured a wonderful Christmas for their 4 daughters but were never overly indulgent.

Something inside believed that one of the boxes under the glowing tree was that sweater. I pulled out all the boxes with my name on the little tags…determined which few were the approximately weight of the Izod sweater and carefully untaped the end…just enough to push the box end down, touch and see the gift inside.

The first one – pink and flannel. The second one – corduroy and brown. The third one – jackpot! Navy and sweater. My heart leaped with joy! I really couldn’t believe it! My mom had been listening and she figured out a way to get that navy blue Izod sweater for me! Sweeeet!

Two mornings later, as I act surprised with the long flannel nightgown and the corduroy brown pants…I can barely contain myself when I get to the Izod sweater…I rip the paper and the box to proudly lift up – a navy crew sweater with my initials embroidered in kelly green across the center…WHAT?! Where is my Izod sweater?

There was never an Izod sweater under the tree. Rightly so, my parents would never have spent that kind of money on me for one sweater. But my hope was gone…I was disappointed and a bit jaded…

That’s a sad place to be for a 12 year old, a 25 year old, a 42 year old, a 68 year old…living without hope is not living.

Having hope is the anticipation, the belief and expectation there is more to come…better ahead…dreams to come true…

In our world of hurt…in times of pain and hardship, dreams and optimism, faith and aspirations are difficult to grab hold of…

The bleak and scary news blaring out of the TV and talk radio don’t lead to promises of optimism and brighter times ahead.

So where is this hope? The hope is in this season of Christmas…

Can you imagine the fear and doubt weighing so heavily on the young couple who were about to become the parents of the greatest package of Hope ever to be given?

This couple was likely shunned because of their circumstances…the young lady who had expectations of marrying her love in a celebrated ceremony was now riding on a donkey into a stable on the verge of giving birth…thinking of the confusion and apprehension they must have been experiencing causes me a bit of anxiety.

Yet, they believed. They trusted. They had hope.

We have a choice. Disappointment over material items or joy and peace with the gift of Hope selflessly given to us over 2000 years ago.

I choose Hope.

Believe. Create. Live.