Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jingle Jingle!

Up until the week before Thanksgiving I try my best not to think much about Christmas. [Well, not Christmas the birth of Christ, but Christmas the gift-giving, event-attending, busiest time of year.] However, now it is the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and time to start planning! I know myself well enough to know that if I don't carefully plan gift-giving, I will go way over what I should spend.

Does anybody else find this a very conflicting time of year? On one hand, I sort of love the joy of planning gifts for my loved ones. I love to decorate my house with a ton of Christmas decorations. I love the music and the noise and get-togethers. At the same time, the other side of me wishes for this to be a peaceful time, concentrating on the birth of my savior (and all that means for the world); reflecting on the magnificence of creation; sitting at a window and "hearing" silence as snow falls outside; to sit still and read scripture; to teach my children to think about giving rather than receiving. The two mindsets are opposite, and yet both are within me for the next month or so. Come January 1st, I am DONE with the busy-ness. I am DONE with the clutter and excess. I guess January is that quiet time that I partly wish for in December.

Since I am conflicted at this time of year, it's no wonder my children are! They are good kids and they do think about how they can be involved in giving to others. But they are kids, and kids love Christmastime for more than just the religious meaning. They can't help but think about what they would wish for, even if they have learned that it shouldn't be the focus. I have been so proud of Taevy this year. She has been saying for weeks that she honestly doesn't need anything (true) and that even most of her wants have been fulfilled. I have folks asking me what she wants for Christmas and it has been a bit like pulling teeth for her to come up with a list. [Isn't that awesome?] There is a special something she wants, but she knows it's not going to happen. [She's saving up.] The other kids have no problem coming up with things they hope are under the tree, but with Big Sister's leadership I know they will keep their "wants" in check.

I have come to realize that we will never be the family who doesn't exchange gifts on Christmas. We will never be the family who doesn't at all get carried away in the hustle and bustle and excitement in the air. My kids will always have reason to think about themselves a bit and prepare a small list of gift ideas for those that ask. And I will always take joy in giving my loved ones gifts. At the same time, we will have a reflection each day focused on the Advent, the events leading up to the birth of Christ. We'll enjoy setting up each of the 30+ nativities that I've collected over the years (not that nativities say something about ones' spirituality!] We'll read a Christmas book each night. And we'll spend more concentrated time together than we do at other times of the year--baking cookies, or making peanut brittle, doing crafts, traveling, or simply wrapping gifts!

It was a long but ultimately satisfying day today. We cut and trimmed and otherwise prepared the yards for winter. We put away all of the lovely Autumn decorations. We cleared out a spot for the Christmas tree. [Big help by Eric and the kids). And I planned what we will give the children on Christmas. A mixture of family gifts, and personal gifts, and "giving to others" gifts. The best moment of the day was adding it all up and realizing I came in $2 under budget!!

That's the "jingle jingle." It's eight quarters in my pocket!


P.S. Oops! I guess I'll be using those 8 quarters after all. I forgot about stockings!


exmish 11:03 AM  

I don't think that being a family that doesn't give gifts at Christmastime is something higher than a family that does. After all, doesn't our Father give His family the best gifts of all? :) He delights to give us gifts, even ones we don't deserve.

I think most kids who are raised well eventually come to appreciate the giving as much as or more than the receiving. I'm seeing it in my older two this year - they're budgeting and planning and plotting to give gifts to each other. :)

Attagirl for Taevy! :) :)