"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
How would our children react if Santa Claus came but brought no presents. "Here I am!" he might say, with his arms wide spread, his familiar white beard and beautiful smile.
Would they squeal with delight at his coming, or look around to see where he must be hiding the sack of toys?
The Lord gives us wonderful gifts but they're not always what we had in mind, not even remotely. Where we want prosperity, comfort, luxury and security he gives us courage, generosity, willingness and fidelity.
These are the presents that come with his presence for they abide in God. Without him we cannot have them. Sometimes the saints complain about his apparent absence until they realize they are still practicing charity despite their intrusive thoughts; still waiting despite their impatience; still hopeful despite their fears.
One troubled night, as Joseph pondered what he was supposed to do about the woman he loved, who was bearing a child not his own, he discovered that fearless, confident, generous spirit in his heart. "God is with us!" he heard in the darkness; and he knew the "us" included his beautiful espoused wife.
Whatever happens, whatever threats we face; whatever misgivings we suffer, God is with us. This is the promise and the joy of Christmas.