The Beauty of the Wait.

The turkey has been devoured, the family has shuffled out and Ralphie is finally where he’s wanted to be all day: hunched under the covers in his bed with a flashlight. The end of Thanksgiving means the start of the Christmas season, and he only wants one thing from Santa. A Red Ryder BB Gun. (As everyone collectively says, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” Just hear me out. ;)) Ralphie finishes his letter, riddled with backward “S”s and “N”s, and places it in an envelope. Now imagine that the next day, Ralphie’s dad walks in, pulls a beautiful Red Ryder out of a big bag, and says, “Here ya go, son. Enjoy!” Excitedly, Ralphie runs up and gets his new toy. The End.

Ummmm…. Let’s rewind back to Thanksgiving and try a new scenario. Little Ralph has just finished penning his letter. .

Time creeps along and we reach December 10th. Ralphie has spent the last two weeks re-reading his letter to Santa in his mind. Did he say it in the right way? Is the gun going to come? Will he get it his most coveted possession?  Will Christmas arrive?

Ralphie walks into the house after school and there is a box under the Christmas tree. It is long and rectangular. It is BB Gun shaped!!!! He flips up the tag and it reads, “To Ralphie, from Santa”. He just KNOWS it has to be his special request!!!!

He scrunches down next to the tree and runs his fingers over the crisply wrapped box. He shuts his eyes and drifts into a daydream – gun poised, cowboy hat pulled low, one eye closed, tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth – BAM!!!! Bulls-eye after perfect bulls-eye. He has a feeling the good times are coming!

The next 15 days feel like 15 years to Ralphie. He visits his box under the tree no less than seven times a day. He eats, sleeps and BREATHES that BB Gun. After a while he wonders if Christmas is ever going to come.

On Christmas Eve, as his family reads through the Christmas story in the Bible, Ralphie’s eyes are fixated on the box under the tree. The moment his mother closes The Good Book, he runs to his room and gets in his red footie pajamas. Ralphie knows that the faster he goes to bed, the faster it will be Christmas morning. As he tosses and turns in bed that night, the more he tries to sleep the farther sleep strays. After what seems like hours, his eyelids grow heavy and he spirals into a sweet gun-slinging dream.

DING! Ralphie pops up like a Jack-in-the-box at 4:45 am on the money. Though time moved at a glacial pace, Christmas. Finally. Came. His feet slide out from under him as he turns the corner in the hall, galloping toward his parents room. A dazed and sleepy-eyed mom and dad drag themselves out of bed, knowing their son has waited long enough.

Ralphie bounds into the living room, his parents scooting quickly behind him. They knew that if they lagged behind, they’d miss the whole moment. Diving under the tree, Ralph grabs the box and obliterates the thin layer of paper around it.

Time seems to move in slow motion. As the paper falls to the floor, Ralphie’s heart virtually beats out of his chest. The side of the box reads – Red Ryder. He hugs the box to his chest and spins in circles, eyes closed. Jumping and hopping around the living room, his parents beam as they watch their son’s Christmas dreams come true.

That – my friends – is the beauty of the wait.

It’s there with the 16 year old who rolls his five-gallon Sparkletts jug full of quarters out of his room and asks dad to drive him to the car dealership. It’s there with the couple who clicks “Buy” on those plane tickets they’ve put every spare dollar away for. It’s there with the mom who gets dinner simmering at 2pm so the flavors soak in. It’s there with the seven-year old girl who places her allowance down on the counter at Toys R Us, and walks out with her dream Barbie. It’s there with the newlywed couple that simply chose to wait. It’s there with the woman who hand-pens a letter to a distant friend, drops it in the mailbox, and waits for that friendly call.

You see, that agony – that watching of the clock – that scheming and dreaming that occurs – it serves a purpose. It sweetens the moment when it finally comes.

In the speed of our modern life, the beauty of the wait has been lost. We want life fast. Text message fast. Microwave fast. Carpool lane fast. Credit card fast. Instant gratification is so the norm in this day and age, that fewer and fewer people are experiencing the depth of joy that happens when receiving something you were required to wait for.

I want a Banana Republic khaki trench coat, but I’ll wait. I want laser eye surgery, but I’ll wait. I want a trip to Australia, but I can wait. I want a house, but I’ll wait. I want a baby, but I’ll wait. And because I wait – each one of those desires coming to pass will be sweeter and more amazing than I ever imagined. I will be Ralphie on Christmas morning – because I had to wait.

My friends, patience really is one of the greatest of virtues. Don’t allow the convenience of instant gratification to keep you from the beauty of the wait.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Juliet Wolf
    Nov 18, 2010 @ 14:42:37

    Wow, Miriam! That really spoke to my heart. It helps me to pray for a better attitude. You see, the Mexican culture has been teaching me to wait. In good ways (even fast food here is prepared fresh after you order it, no heat lamps!), and in bad ways (Mexico City traffic). All my time as a military wife, I’ve longed for a house of my own. But God has gently taught me that if I have patience and wait for the place he’s preparing for me in Heaven, and not scramble to settle for something on Earth, (which could never be permanent, anyway, ‘cuz we’re mortal), It will be better than my best dream come true. God bless you, sweetie!


  2. miriambernard
    Nov 18, 2010 @ 20:37:51

    Thanks so much, Aunt Julie! I was really excited to write this, because it’s been on my heart in a strong way recently. It became tiring watching so many friends just buy and buy and buy whatever they want on credit while I wait around saving all my pennies. After a while I realized I’m not the one who should be jealous of them, THEY’RE the ones who should be jealous of ME! 🙂 God is so good. I am learning to appreciate the beauty of the wait, just like you. I miss you!


  3. Lucy McConville
    Nov 19, 2010 @ 14:49:30

    How can you be so wise when you MUST be younger than I am — because I went to high school with your mom? You are an amazing woman. I love reading your blog when your mom posts the link.

    I’m waiting, Miriam, and it IS going to be worth it. Thank you for this perfect-timing message (she says with tears streaming down her face).


  4. Wayne Hanlon
    Nov 19, 2010 @ 19:58:24

    That was simply, Beautiful !! It was really well written. I was intrigued from the first paragraph. If Ralphie could wait…the rest of us should be able to wait to……Merry Christmas 🙂


  5. Theresa
    May 30, 2011 @ 19:16:07

    As always, VERY well written! Thanks for sharing! 🙂


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