Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This Christmas

I am loving our new approach to Christmas and the holiday season this year. I feel so much more laid back and relaxed and able to enjoy what it is really about this year. It leads me to be very appreciative of the financial situation that has prompted these changes.

A few observations:

* We decided that we would only do three gifts per child this year. A friend told me that she only does 3 gifts because Jesus received 3 gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh (don't judge me for my spelling). I thought this was a wonderful idea, because really... who thinks they're better than Jesus that they need more gifts than he got? So cutting down to 3 gifts for our girls has been amazing! I found that my list turned into a list of things that they would actually play with and enjoy throughout the year instead of my usual list of things that I thought they should have or should like to play with. A definite shift in focus for me. So they are each getting two gifts to play with, books and a gift from Santa (technically that is 4 gifts, but Santa's does not count).

I have alternately felt very happy with the situation and very inadequate and upset. Ultimately, though, I love it and think it is a great change that we will stick with in the future.

* We are doing our advent things and starting new traditions. We have done our advent wreath each Sunday and have been able to talk about Hope, Peace and Joy with the girls. Granted Ryann and Georgia are more interested in blowing the candles out, but they are getting the foundations and are remembering the names of the candles.

In addition to the advent wreath, we began our nightly Adore-naments last Sunday night. These are the 12 ornaments that correspond to 12 names of Jesus. There is a reading with each one - and I AM LOVING THIS!!! We sit down as a family every night before bed, light the advent candles - rename them and talk about the meaning of each one - and then we do the reading on a name of Jesus. So far we have done Immanuel, The Door, and The True Vine. This has given us a unique opportunity to talk about what each name means and to discover how it applies to Jesus.

Last night, Nora read about The Door. This was the first time that she has read scripture - at least in my presence. Tears welled up in my eyes as she spoke of Jesus being The Only Way and the only Door. What a memory. Never in a million years did I think I would be one of those moms who got teary over such a thing...

* Dave had all of these neat family outings planned for each weekend during the holiday season. The first weekend was the weekend after Thanksgiving and I was just too tired - emotionally - from some conversations over the weekend and I asked if we could skip it that weekend. He was disappointed, but understood. The next weekend was 14 degrees and was impossible to think about bringing the girls out in that kind of cold weather.

Last weekend, though, was in the 50's so we went to Long Grove, IL and had such a wonderful time! We went there on a whim two years ago and loved it and were excited to go back. I had wanted to go the previous weekend because they were having Santa and some Dickensian Carolers, but it was just too cold. We were able to do some shopping and get some treats - popcorn for the girls, coffee for me and some giant gingerbread cookies - like we had promised. AND we went on a horse and carriage ride where Nora got to actually drive! She told us it was the best day - EVER. I think they really enjoyed it... there's not a ton to do other than walk through the little shops, but its just a cute little town thats fun to be in and be a part of. And any time that we spend together as a family hanging out like that is so great.

* BFWW and I were chatting this morning about Christmas and buying gifts. We were discussing the reciprocity factor in buying gifts - someone buys you something and you feel you must buy something of equal or more value than they gave to you. I have to say, this year has humbled me in that respect - knowing that we simply cannot do it has been a blow to my pride. Granted we have not ever been truly reciprocal with some people - our parents spend way more on us than we could spend on them - but we have set a standard of an amount that we normally spend and we're not able to spend even close to that amount this year. I have been waffling between knowing that they understand where we are and what our situation is and feeling somewhat embarassed at the measly gifts that we are giving them this year.

In the course of the conversation, I was talking out loud about how I wish Christmas gift giving could be revolutionized. Could we please change it to buying gifts for those whom we truly want to buy gifts for out of love instead of buying gifts for people out of obligation? I LOVE to buy gifts for the people that I'm close to, but I definitely stress out about buying gifts for people that I don't know very well but am obligated to buy for. I would like to shop for someone with him/her in mind, knowing exactly what he/she would love and be able to buy it - no set budget... if it costs $10 and they love it, it would be as good as if it cost $200 and they love it. I don't know, I guess I get discouraged by obligations vs. authentic relationships if that makes any sense.

* We received a Harry & David's gift tower last week. Fricken' baklava. Thats all I have to say about that.

* Dave received a Christmas card in the mail today from one of his clients. It had a $100 gift card to our local grocery store in it. He was a little upset... these are good clients of his, they live near us and they adore us. While he was very appreciative he felt like he couldn't accept it because he gets paid to help them with their finances. When he called to thank them for the gift they told him that instead of buying each other gifts this year, they decided to spend the money helping out some young families that they know - and we were one of them. Now, I loved these people before this, but holy cow - this made me cry. To know that they thought of us in that way and loved us enough to help us is almost overwhelming. To know that God is providing in ways that we don't expect and through people that come as a big surprise is amazing to me.

How has your Christmas season been so far?


Mommy Brain 6:38 AM  

I cherish those times when I have spiritual conversations with my kids...and as they get older, the more amazed at God's faithfulness I am.

As a young couple, Doug and I were helped out greatly by kind hearted people...I remember how thankful we were... and now we are so blessed to help other families when we can...You and Dave will bless someone further up the road.

God is good all the time God is good!

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