I was strolling through Sam’s Club the other day and noticed a pallet in the isle stacked with cases of ten-pound bags of navel oranges. I bought a bag. They were big and bright and promising. They weren’t the sweetest oranges I have ever enjoyed but they brought back a sweet memory.
When I was a boy living in DeGraff, Ohio, Dad was a pastor. As a professional courtesy the local funeral home delivered a case of Florida navel oranges to our house. It was a carton of oranges as big as softballs, bright, beautiful, and orange. They were sweet as candy, each one resting in its own “nest” of green packing “grass.” Of course they were seedless. I had never seen a seedless orange before. Dad stored them out on the back porch where they would stay wonderfully cold. Mom and Dad let us go out and get one a day. That way they stretched the pleasure of the oranges out all the way to Christmas. When Dad took out his pocket knife and pealed an orange the whole house was filled with its citrus fragrance. To this day I associate the smell of oranges with our small white story-and-a-half house on Miami Street in DeGraff and our glowing Christmas tree.
Those oranges were such a simple delight – surpassing the memory of most of the complicated, over-rated, much-promoted gadgets my parents sacrificed to give us for Christmas.
There are two ways to have everything you want, an esteemed Christian once said. One is to acquire more; the other is to desire less. This year my Christmas wish and my New Year’s resolution are the same they go together like cinnamon and brown sugar. My resolution and wish is not to acquire more, but it is to desire less and to learn to allow the simple gifts God has given to fill me with quiet wonder and sincere worship.
God deliver us from plodding through life with our head down, resolute on carrying out the duties of life but failing to find the joy and delight in it. Missing delightful things like cold navel oranges eaten with a child at the foot of the Christmas tree on a December night.
To be honest, I still like to have the latest gadgets, like blackberrys, and ipods, and iphones, and laptops, and GPS gizmos, but they will never invent an electronic device that can rival the pure and simple pleasure of reading “A Visit from St. Nicholas” to your daughter or your grandson the night before Christmas. They won’t be the things you look back on with fondness decades from now like an angelic choir of little children in bathrobes with towels on their heads belting out carols in the church Christmas program.
My Christmas wish and my New Years resolution are the same. Savor simple sweet pleasures that stimulate worship and wonder. Amen.
The Pierpont Home
December 17, 2007