Christmas is just around the corner. Which makes me think of last winter when my daughter Paige was riding with her grandma, and someone on the radio said that exact thing. In typical Paige fashion, she says “Grandma! Can you turn here?” When asked why, she says “because the radio said that Christmas is just around the corner!” I love kids and their sweet, sweet innocence. Especially this time of year.
Christmastime really is a beautiful, magical time. But for some, the Christmas spirit doesn't come so easily. I find it sad that Christmas has become so commercialized and gift centered that some families feel more stress than cheer and joy. There's a lot of pressure involved! I'm a walking contradiction though. I long for the days of old, when families gathered for a delicious Christmas dinner, roasted marshmallows and drank hot chocolate while listening as someone read of the birth of Jesus from their Bible, sang carols, and exchanged a gift or two with those they love. Actually, for a long time, the only gift a child received was one left by dear old St. Nick. Yet even though I yearn for those simpler times, I still find myself giving in to the pressure to make sure my children have plenty to open Christmas morning. Combine 8 kids , a very limited income, and the queen of procrastination (me!), it is nothing short of tough. Not to mention that it seems to be right around this time of year that we get hit with all of the unexpecteds. Car problems, vet bills, broken water heaters. There is no margin for error in December. So although last year I swore it was “the last time,” I again spend the weeks leading up to Christmas with a constant knot in my stomach as I try to tap into my inner resourcefulness and figure out how to make it all work. Which it does, every year, but man do I hate the process. We may be eating ramen noodles for the next month, but at least our Christmas shopping is done. What kind of logic is that???
So how do you break the cycle? How do you find the balance between how you wish things were, how they are, and how society makes you feel about it all? I did not raise selfish, bratty, materialistic children. They have what they need and some of what they want. Yet they understand that we work hard for what they do have, and that we aren't made of money and can't buy the latest $400 gadget to hit the market. They also have warm, caring hearts, and have been taught to understand that while we may not have much, there are many people out there with far less. They have been taught to give their time (we volunteer at a local animal shelter), and money (my daughter refuses to walk past a Salvation Army bell ringer without dropping in some change. Even one Christmas when, unknown to her, I was a single mother and our gifts came from the Salvation Army). This year, Landon received a new Kindle Fire for his birthday from his dad. Rather than hold on to or sell his basic Kindle, he chose to hold a drawing on facebook and give it away to a family who otherwise could not afford one. His only condition was that it go to a child who loved to read as much as he does, so that it would be used, and loved. My heart is so full of love, pride, and appreciation for that boy. I believe it's my honesty and refusal to shield my children from the struggles of the “real world” that have helped to shape them into the giving, sweet hearts that they are today. They have witnessed Mr. Wannabe and I trying to figure out a way to take in 2 additional children who needed us, when we struggled to keep up with bills and groceries for our own. They know, in the small ways children can, what it means to sacrifice, give up, and go without. I don't keep our financial struggles a big secret, not to needlessly worry them but to set an example on how to handle a crisis with pride, grace, faith, and learned skills such as resourcefulness, frugality, and common sense. That, and to make sure they know that even with hard work, sometimes you still have to be creative when it comes to money....and that is nothing to be ashamed of. And they are already learning! At the beginning of the school year, we were talking about getting new backpacks. Landon speaks up and says "My old bag will work for now, and we can just wait until after school starts for a new one when they all go on clearance." Where does he get this stuff? Oh yeah, from me!
Even so, I don't think my little wannabes would be too understanding if I decided to have an old fashioned Christmas. But then again, maybe I underestimate them?
Has anyone done this? Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions! Until then, may you all have a blessed, merry, and joyous Christmas! And may we all remember it's true meaning as we celebrate Jesus' birth.