I thought my mom made up that song. I did.
While Dad would opt for subtle, crooner songs for his Christmas sing.a.longs, usually picking ‘White Christmas’ or singing his own adaptation of ‘I’ll have a blue Christmas without you….’every now and then, Mom used to shock and awe when she busted out ‘I want a hippopotamus for Christmas… only a hippopotamus would do… ‘ and… confession? I thought it was her very own contribution to the music world.
Years later, I realized that the reason I had heard the song so often growing up was because my parents owned the record and, as disappointing as it was, my mom did not write the song. I smile when I hear the intro as immediately my memories march right into formation along with the horns and without even realizing it, I’m singing along with every word; spot-on with the nasal-y vocals. As sad as it was to discover that my mom didn’t write the song, I’m not really even sure if she likes hippopotami… let along want one for a pet.
Today I heard the song and out loud asked myself, ‘would I really want a hippopotamus for Christmas?’ Hmmm… Would you really want a hippopotamus for Christmas?
I ask because, have you seen a hippopotamus lately? Have you given one – a real one – a good look?
Well… the song made me think of how too often, my heart and mind are warped. Just plain warped. Oh how reflective of a discontent heart are the lines, ‘I want a hippopotamus for Christmas, only a hippopotamus will do…‘ just replace the word hippopotamus accordingly.
Why do I seem to struggle too often with being content? Why is it I find I want what I do not have? Why can I not be satisfied with what I do have and the reality of what is? Why does there tend to be only one thing that separates me from happiness? It’s like: If I just had (that one thing), I’d be content. I could insert an endless amount of tangible stuff into that sentence… If I just had a new iPhone, I’d be content… If I just had a pair of sweet boots I could wear all day without my feet hurting that hit mid-calf and had just enough of a heel to keep my jeans from dragging the ground, I’d be content… If I could just get the price I wanted for this printing I’m doing for a project next week, I’d be content… I could also list a lot of non-material things too, like… If I knew where I would be a year from now, I’d be content… If I knew that I’d get married someday, I’d be content… If I just knew that I’d have children with curly hair someday, I’d be content… and on and on and on… Is it just me? I doubt it.
I read what Luke had to say about it, paraphrased, that is, ‘Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.’ It’s not our ‘stuff’ that makes us who we are. So, I went exploring a little further and found a few questions to consider. I’m going to share them as I don’t think Mr. Lucado would mind, as long as I give him credit.
“What if your ship never comes in, if your dream never comes true, if the situation never changes, could you be happy? ” from the book: Traveling Light
Then I spent time thinking on all that I do have… I have a God that hears me; who will never leave me, I have the power of His love behind me; the preciousness of His promises before me. I have His mercy that keeps me from receiving the things I ‘think’ I want and His knowledge to give me only what I need. I have His guidance for every turn, His strong arm to lift me from the muck and yuck. I have Him; the candle in any darkened corner. I have Him; the anchor in any, and every storm. Yep. I have everything I need.
And I have his Word that reminds me that nothing can take it from me…
I’m choosing to practice contentment, much like one practices patience. I anticipate that I’ll need to frequently be reminded to choose to be content. I’m encouraged that followers of God before me recognized contentment to be a choice. I choose to let go and give to God discontentment, surrendering to Him all the wants that keep me from embracing the preciousness that comes with contentment. I desire to keep it all in perspective- God’s perspective- not mine.
So to bring it all back to what this post started with… I decided that I don’t need a ‘hippopotamus’ for Christmas. Because, like David said in Psalm 23, God, I have You. I don’t need a thing!