Patience is not typically a childish virtue when Christmas presents are in sight. In my recollections of seasons past, it wasn’t for me either — especially when my father made Rømmegrøt.
His dedication to Scandinavian tradition was partially to my advantage. Presents in our home were opened on Christmas Eve, while my friends had to cool their jets until Christmas morning. But to my singular disadvantage was my father's insistence that all presents should wait in their wrappers until the Rømmegrøt was done.
“Rømme-what?” you say? Rømmegrøt is a sour cream, milk and flour porridge. I understand if that triggers an involuntary gag reflex in some. To the uninitiated it may sound disgustingly on par with the infamous lutefisk. But when brown sugar is sprinkled with a pat of real butter melting on top, it’s a pretty tasty journey toward a cardiologist’s nightmare. It takes time and patience to make, two ingredients I had little regard for as a child on Christmas Eve.
It wasn’t that presents were particularly plentiful. My father was working extra hours and jobs to keep three boys in Adventist schools. For years he had gone without a heavy winter coat. The thin jacket he wore was increasingly threadbare. Rich with love and care, our home was nevertheless more akin to Bob Cratchit’s than that of Ebenezer Scrooge.
So imagine my wonder when one Christmas Eve, in the midst of Rømmegrøt preparation, heaven intervened with a knock at our door.
Putting his utensils down, my father crossed the room and cautiously opened the front door. There stood a stranger with a large package. “It’s for you,” he said. “Merry Christmas!” And handing the box to my father, he turned without further word and vanished into the night.
The Rømmegrøt was temporarily forgotten while we all gathered around the box. Carefully slitting the seams, my father opened the flaps and reached inside. With an almost reverential gasp, he pulled out a heavy winter coat, size large. My mother burst into tears as the rest of us looked on with amazement at the coat and my father — a perfect fit. Something beyond us had just happened, and I, for one, was happy the Rømmegrøt had been temporarily forgotten.
We never did learn the origin of that coat. Was it from a friend who guessed our need? A supernatural delivery? Whatever the source, it was indeed an answer to prayer — a gift that kept on giving year after year of warmth; the only gift, in fact, I ever saw that interrupted my dad’s Rømmegrøt! In my opinion, that alone tipped the scales to divine intervention.
God’s gifts rain down on us every day. He is no respecter of seasons. Scripture reminds us that His bounty is lavished equally on the just and the unjust. But if we receive without gratitude, we will fail to reap the full measure of the gift. Divine gifts are intended to begin a circle of blessing in which we have a part.
Our opportunity throughout this season and beyond is to show our gratitude by paying forward the blessings we receive. Who knows? Perhaps your attention to the need of a friend or neighbor might lead you to a porch this Christmas Eve with a heaven-sent gift and an answer to someone’s prayers.