Sunday, December 12, 2010

Celebrating Christmas a little differently this year...

So, I like to scrapbook. Scrapbooking is a great way to save memories and so forth, but it also is a way for me to reflect on what we've done and how we do things. I started seeing a pattern in our Christmases - all the pictures were of people opening presents. EVERYTHING was about opening presents! It made me wonder why.. and what Christmas is truly about. Why is the focus on presents? Last year Lily and Youssef talked about what they were going to get for at least two months... they both stressed about it and talked about it. Lily seemed worried that I'd forget what she'd asked for... Youssef was worried that the thing for him would be the wrong size, and so on. Why did we spend SO much time thinking and talking and fretting about gifts?

Not to leave myself out of course because I spent most of the month MAKING gifts or PLANNING gifts or something to that effect. I didn't spend extra time with family and making memories.. no.. I got stressed and "under a deadline" .. and the question is.. why should we do it that way?

Of course, the more I thought of this and talked to Youssef about it, the more we decided that we wanted to start doing things differently. But how?

The plan this year has been to let the girls pick a toy out when we first put up our tree so that they have something small and new to play with and enjoy, but the anticipation and stress does NOT last all month. Hence, on Christmas it's not going to be about presents and "what do you want for Christmas?" mindset.

I think I've talked a little bit on here about what we've been doing DURING the holiday season.. reading "The Christmas Carol" out loud while the Daddy plays lego on the floor with the girls, buying a few new games so we can do more fun stuff as a family (the girls get to unwrap the games and even the few small toys that they've picked out to keep that fun anticipation and festive feel to make it special.) We have fondue together and the girls get candy a bit more often than usual. ;]

But all that is DURING the Christmas season... what should we do ON Christmas?

Well, I've been planning for a while that we'd probably do a birthday cake for Jesus because the girls are little and that would be a way for them to understand what we are celebrating. I did want to do stockings and have tiny gifts in there as well for Christmas morning and talk to them about the story of St. Nicholas (great VeggieTale version btw!)

The main focus though would be on giving a present to Jesus (by giving to someone else who needs it) like choosing a charity or something. If you think about it.. how much can we save by NOT giving just a couple gifts. Gifts run between 20 to 50 dollars! I love giving toys to my kids (as evidenced by the WAY too many toys that they have!) but really.. how many more things do they need to play with? I loved letting them pick something small out because it made that toy much more special and wasn't about the "amount" of "things" they were going to get. As in "Madame Blueberry" (another VeggieTales.. you can tell how old my kids are!) Bob says "How many things do you NEED to be happy?" And Larry says "I don't know.. how many things are there?" Yes.. this is definitely the mindset. I remember thinking that way as a kid. The one toy wasn't enough.. I had to have the matching thing and then the other thing and then the WHOLE set for it to be just right. It feels like such an ingrained thing that it's hard to NOT think that way.

So, back to the point. I wanted the focus this year to be on giving to a charity to teach the girls how that's like giving a present to Jesus for His birthday, but I hadn't found anything specific until today.

Perhaps this is a weird thing to talk about, right? As Christians we are supposed to be all humble and not let other people see how or that we are giving. I'm not sure why that is.. it could be that we are gratifying our own pride by being so "humble" and "secretive" about giving. I don't know how NOT to be transparent and sincere about what I do (hence all the blabbing on this blog).. but it's never to tout what I'm choosing to do. I always hope that whatever it is that I share.. be it some creative project or something that God is teaching me, that other people will simply be encouraged! Doesn't mean you need to do the exact same thing of course, but you never know... maybe God will use my words to bring a much desired change in someone else's Christmas as well as in ours. I love hearing about what other people are creating or changing in their lives, even if it doesn't apply to me it's encouraging to see how other people are growing. :]

Now to the POINT of this blog post!
It's because I found the perfect "gift for Jesus"!!!!!
(At least from our family) :]

Some friends of ours that we met way back in the day when we lived in Spokane and went to the same church are adopting for the second time!!! They are a wonderful family and have such a great heart for children and learning about other cultures and so forth.. I spent a couple hours this morning reading their blog. Anyway, they are getting a grant to match dollar for dollar to help pay the adoption expenses and the grant closes the beginning of February. So this is the time to put what we can into it. They will match dollar for dollar up to $2,500. Info on how to give is on their blog in the link below.

This is where we are putting that money that would have gone to extra toys or knickknacks that would be left unplayed with after the first few days or left to collect dust in an overly crowded house.

I hope some of you will be led to join us in this effort to give a child a wonderful home! Even if you simply choose to forgo a couple gifts to help fund this grant that would be WONDERFUL!

Merry Christmas everybody!

James 1:27 "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this : to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."


Jessica said...

I admire your ability to put aside the commercialism of Christmas and celebrate in a way that truly shows the REASON for the season. We have also decided that it was too much. We're not foregoing everything, but we took a good chunk of the money we would have used to buy our children gifts they didn't need and made Christmas boxes for Opperation Christmas Child. It was an amazing lesson in generosity for our children as well as for us.
I hope you enjoy your holidays and I'm so glad you're doing things "differently"!! ; ) What an amazing gift for your children!

Lynne' said...

I missed out on the time to do the Operation Christmas Child but think it's a GREAT idea! I'd like to add that for next year. It's hard to keep the commercialism out, but we'll keep working on it and probably get better at it too. :]