The girls aren't going to have a big Ta-Da from Santa this year. You know what I'm talking about. The huge kind of gift that takes up the whole living room and gets a BIG Christmas morning reaction. They are, however, getting everything that they asked for....Moon Dough and Pillow Pets included. And, thanks to Gigi and PopPop, a salon. We said that we were scaling back Christmas this year, because we are planning an upcoming trip to Disney World and would rather save money for that. But, those plans flew out the window as soon as Wal-Mart started playing Christmas carols over the intercom.
I have found a few ways to save money, though, in spite of all the hustle and bustle. I have done a lot of my Christmas shopping online, which has helped me compare prices, find better deals, and you can get free shipping almost everywhere during the holidays. Thank you eBay and amazon. And, a lot of people may disagree with re-gifting, but this year, I'm guilty! Two or three years ago it was the Christmas of Elmo around here. Sarah was between 1 and 3 years old and was infatuated with all things Elmo. When she started moving on to the next thing, we put most of the Elmo toys in the attic. This year, Rylee is at that age. She is Elmo's biggest fan. You should see her blue eyes light up when she hears that annoying, high-pitched voice! Why should we go out and buy all new Elmo toys when we have an attic full of barely-played-with Elmo toys? So, we are going to get all of those toys out, clean them up, and give them to Rylee. Poor Rylee, I know, always getting the hand-me-downs. But, she'll be just as excited about those recycled toys as she would be about new ones. That is, until she looks at the pictures 10 years from now and realizes that Santa brought her the exact same things that he brought Sarah 3 years earlier!
I am just realizing, I think, that I've spent so many Christmases getting all wrapped up (pardon the bad pun) in the things that aren't important. And, it's time now, to start remembering what Christmas is about in the first place. I don't want my girls to grow up thinking that Christmas is all about how much is spent on them and what they can get. I want them to have a real understanding of why we celebrate. I want to them to have a passion for giving. Not of their wallets, but of their time, and of their hearts. I want them to give freely all the love, encouragement, friendship, and service that they can. The things that can't be wrapped in a nice little bow. The things that Jesus came here and gave to us. And, I know that the only way to teach them the true spirit of Christmas is to lead by example.
So, this year, I don't need any tangible gifts. If you want to give me something, here is my list:
1. You can give me your prayers. If or when I cross your mind, just say a quick prayer. Pray that I will be the wife,mother, and daughter that my family deserves. Pray that I will be a better friend, who picks up the phone more often to call, and picks up a pen more often to write. Pray that I will find contentment spending another Christmas living away from home. Pray that this Christmas be our last one living here, and that next year Brian will get the opportunity to move us home. Pray that our lost loved ones will come to know salvation. And, pray that I will be the example of God's love that I am called to be. So that more will come to know His amazing love and mercy.
2. You can give of your time. Let's have dinner together when we come to town or take turns helping each other clean house or do laundry. It's only a 2 hour drive. Let's set aside an afternoon to gather all the clothes,toys, and household items that we don't use and donate them to people who really have needs this year. Let's spend a Saturday baking sugar-free Christmas snacks to take to the nursing home and/or shut-ins. Offer to come up one weekend and we'll take our kids to do something fun together.
I am not in any way trying to come off as Ebenezer Scrooge, Bah Humbug, and all that. I just think that dollar amounts should not be on the top of the priority list for Christmas. I want my kids to be excited about presents and Santa just like every other kid. But, I don't want to lose sight of what really matters. I want this year to be the last one that I spend Christmas worrying and stressing about too much Christmas spending! And, next year when I start making all my Christmas lists, someone please remind me to come back and read this post, because I'm sure I will forget.:)
p.s. Don't you love the irony of the whole post being about the un-importance of Christmas presents and in the picture my girls are wearing dresses covered in Christmas presents?!