This year Christmas was a little different. My son is 17 months and I envisioned him ripping through gifts, playing with them while we all opened ours and then us eating and having a fabulous day. It sort of happened that way…
Our morning began at 7:45 which was pretty good for a toddler. We got him dressed and had a few of Santa’s toys downstairs ready to see. He was immediately crying though due to a cold and wasn’t in the best of mood. I could tell this would not be the amazing moment of joy I had anticipated. Alas, we descended downstairs and my husband videoed C’s reaction to the Ballapalooza! After a while he got the hang of it and enjoyed the balls. Thankfully I had an hour before my parents came over and was able to make a breakfast casserole.
Some time later, my family arrived and chaos ensues. Presents, food all over the place and that damn casserole was still not done. We decided to open stockings since breakfast wasn’t ready and that was a bit chaotic as well. My son would not let me put him down and every time I did anyway, it was screaming and moaning that would wake the dead. This was not my idea of a peaceful Christmas.
Now almost two hours later, my eggs were still runny and the sausage was swimming thanks to a 25-year-old oven that works horribly. Back in the oven. We went ahead and started opening gifts, one at at time and I was amazed at all of the gifts around us. I truly felt like we went overboard. IT’s so easy to want to give people gifts and I know my family is just as happy yesterday as they were the year I made all my gifts in college. And I am one of those who is happier to give than receive. I love seeing everyone open gifts that they love and I spend lots of time thinking out what to get each person. But I couldn’t help but think about the girl on my angel tree and knowing that without my gifts, she might not have gotten anything else. Did the clothes fit? Did she even like those sweaters? And all of those others out there who did not have their name on an angel tree and what did they get?
Someone very close to me lives in a homeless shelter and it’s not because he is a bad person or a criminal or anything negative. He just needs some time to get on his feet and figure some things out. I especially thought about him yesterday and hope he enjoyed opening the gift card I sent him, knowing someone cared. I’m guessing on some level we would have all been disappointed if all we got was a gift card or JUST some clothes. My heart kept thinking about those in need and the weird juxtaposition of all of the gifts surrounding our house. There are lots of people out there who through no fault of their own, don’t have as much. It makes me question if we are just fortunate or if we perhaps go overboard.
Thankfully my family is one that shows their love through more than monetary things. I never grew up having the latest and greatest of anything but I also never went without. While some of my friends got brand new cars at 15, mine was 13 years old. But what my dad DID teach me was that hey, at least I got a car at 15. But we were always given everything we NEEDED and many times things we WANTED. I wish this were the same for every child out there.
My Christmas day lasted yesterday from 7:45 until 6 p.m. Two meals, lots of tears, some arguing, some laughing, and lots of squeals of delight from one very happy 17 month old. In the days leading up, I had two other Christmas celebrations with the in-laws and things were very similar. Wonderful meals, laughs, some gift-giving of some beautiful gifts and just enjoying being around one another. Some of our gifts were from the dollar store and others were from the hands of a talented soul. Some had diamonds on them and others were pictures of our family.
I’m not sure what the exact dollar amount is one should spend on Christmas and I’m not sure how much of helping others at the holidays one should do in order to spread the love. I do know that none of it would be possible without the birth of Jesus though and how much He gave in order for us to receive. I have told my husband we need to make sure our son grows up knowing others are not as fortunate and we need to give of ourselves not only at Christmas but especially at Christmas. I do not want him to grow up thinking Christmas is only about toys and things with no value.
There is a family in my church, a girl I coach on basketball, who makes ornaments themselves and sells them in the narthex before and after worship. They give the proceeds to an orphanage our church is affiliated with. In the bulletin one day, there was a note that encouraged people to check out the ornaments and it said, “Remember, in order for the X kids to receive, they must give.” I thought this was so profound because they were knowing that they must give their time and talents to support the orphans. I only hope my child will be as willing to give.
My day ended much better than it began. My son went down for a nap while we opened our gifts, one at a time, and once he awoke, it was all his turn. He played on his new slide for hours and slept 13.5 hours last night. It was truly a special day. I thank God for all He has given me and blessed me with this and every day. I just hope I will always remember the true meaning of Christmas and celebrate the love of Jesus and my family instead of the gifts taking up my entire living room floor.