In the past few days, I slowly have come to the startling and horrifying realization that.....
I don't adore Christmas.
This little revelation is not sitting well with me. I think I must be the only living breathing human being with a pulse who feels this way. And surely something is wrong with me because every normal mother cherishes the glitter of the season with her little darlings, right?
My kids wanted to get a tree for Christmas. Instead, I considered installing a festivus pole and promoting the airing of grievances. Honesty can be cleansing right? I'm still thinking about it. You think I kid...
We went to Walmart and I picked the least Christmas looking tree they had, the white winterberry tree. It looked great in the living room as you can see here.
So why the not adoring, perhaps even "disliking" (GASP) of Christmas in my heart?
You'd think it was the shopping. But my husband announced to me tonight, that he had taken the kids Christmas lists and finished ordering all of their Christmas presents. Shopping is DONE! Talk about a good decision when I married that guy! If it were up to me, I cringe to think what my kid's Christmas might be like. Last year, on the night before Christmas, realizing I had not bought anything for the stockings, I stuffed them with canned goods. Green beans, Gravy, Rotel. Thankfully, my youngest loves diced tomatoes. I can't say that the other four were very pleased. "Mom, don't forget about the stockings this year...."
My excuse is it's hard for me when I've been across the globe and witnessed people living in poverty who are content and contrast that with the fact that we are living with our every need met and wanting so much more, I struggle to make peace with it. Trust me, I wish I could let go of that tension, but I CANNOT.
However, gift giving has also never been my love language. I prefer some quality time, an act of service, or especially some words of affirmation. I'll take that any day over a new laptop, which my husband tried to give me twice this past year, and I made him take them back. Of course, I am now typing on a new one he necessarily had to purchase when my old one finally kicked the bucket last month.
I'm not a very good gift giver or gift receiver, and that ,I think, is the problem with my grinchy Christmas outlook.
I've been mulling this over. I realized something. Even though I don't LOVE Christmas, one thing I do know is, at the CORE OF MY BEING....I LOVE JESUS.
The ultimate gift was Jesus. He gave us HIMSELF. Completely lavished upon us a gift so undeserved, so priceless, so precious. So PERFECT.
And even though Jesus didn't tell us to celebrate his birth with gift giving, or to celebrate his birth at all. He DID ask us to GIVE.
He said to give to the poor. He said to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to serve one another, to make disciples, to lose our lives to him.
Despite my grinchy feelings, my reservations about the amount of stuff we really need or give, or my lack of "giftedness" in giving, I DO want to be like Jesus. And just as Jesus gave us himself, so I will choose to give of myself to those closest to me this Christmas and to those in need afar. By spending quality time, giving a listening ear, a sensitive heart, a comforting touch, an affirming word, and yes, even some actual green and red paper wrapped presents.
My husband (who at this point is basically Santa Claus) had the wonderful idea to give each of our five children one hundred dollars for Christmas that they could give away. My son, Micah, the green traditional tree lover, picked up a catalog from World Vision and asked to buy a goat, and medicine, and warm blankets before he even knew about the hundred dollars. My other two boys packed Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes online with some of their money. My girls are still thinking (hopefully they don't inherit any scroogeness from me!) I'm joyfully anticipating to see what each of my children will choose to give towards.
These are the gifts I cherish nurturing in my children. With all of the wonder and magic, anticipation, lights and celebration, let me throw off the grinchy scroogy feelings that so easily entangle like all of those lights in last year's boxes, and fix my eyes on the perfect one, the perfect gift and giver.