As we move closer to Christmas, I’m beginning to see more posts on the social networks…some with the countdowns of shopping days left, some with happy remarks about how far they are with their shopping, and several with not-so-happy remarks about how much they need to accomplish. What I read between the lines is the stress that often comes with this season. I just want to encourage everyone, who might be getting caught up in this sort of stress, to lay down your lofty expectations and just embrace the beauty and simpleness of Christmas.
When our boys were young and still at home, and HB and I were just taking off in our careers, money was very tight. Most Christmas’s were focused on our kids. He and I didn’t exchange gifts for years, and if we did we would come up with an idea for something to be enjoyed by the entire family. One year, it was a new TV. Another, a new VCR. Remember those? And another time, it was a new game system. And we never bought the newest, state-of-the-art, version. No, we were usually a couple of years behind what was most popular. It’s just the way things were.
But, in spite of the tight finances, we never allowed it to squash the Christmas spirit inside our home. We couldn’t provide a lot of “things” under the tree, but what we could provide were memories. So, we made a conscientious decision to turn our focus to creating something that money could not buy and that was time together as a family.
If you were to ask my kids, they would probably only remember a handful of gifts received. Probably ones that were sentimental in nature. Okay…they’d probably remember that first game system we bought too. That was a pretty big deal that year.
But, what they would clearly remember would be…The drives up the hill to play in the snow. How we’d take a break from the cold and crowd into the back of the old suburban to eat summer sausage and cheese – and drink hot cocoa from dad’s big Stanley thermos. They’d remember days where we planned movie marathons until late into the evening. And like I said, they’d remember that one year we got the game system – and not because of the system itself, but because of the hours we spent together playing, to the point that our hand muscles ached from gripping the controller for so long. They would remember a home filled with life, love and laughter.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not trying to convey that gifts are bad. What I’m trying to say is, resist the urge to be pulled into the peer pressure that often comes with this season and thinking you have to buy the biggest, most popular, “what everyone else is getting,” gift. Don’t create a memory of Christmas as being a crazy and stressful time of year.
Regardless of where you are in life…commit to making this season a memorable one for you and everyone you come into contact with. I have found, while “stuff” can be fun and sentimental, it really isn’t what it’s all about. What people truly long for most of all, no matter who they are, is time spent with loved ones. Your time is the most rewarding gift you can give.
So in the true spirit of Christmas:
- Invite a friend or family member over for dessert and a fun movie.
- Spend an afternoon baking and decorating simple sugar cookies with a child.
- Take a drive somewhere to see Christmas lights and enjoy being around people.
- Make a puzzle or play a game with good music as your background.
…the list can go on and on. Simple. Fulfilling. Memorable.
In addition to celebrating the gift of Jesus
…these, to me, are the true and simple gifts of Christmas.