Thursday, December 26, 2013

The right perspective

Today I'm sitting here thinking about our Christmas.  I have to confess that I spent much of Christmas Eve worrying about how our day would go.  Would my family be disappointed?  Could I make the day special enough? I lay awake Christmas morning for several hours before dawn worrying about it, as well.

Needlessly. 

We had a good Christmas.  We didn't make the requested sausages and pancakes from the last few years.  We had blueberry muffins and bacon instead.  We opened stockings and gifts, picked up Steve's Mom from the nursing home, then shared a potluck Christmas dinner with some other families in our church. We came home, watched White Christmas with his Mom, gave her the shoes that Steve's siblings all bought her together, ate a quick snacky supper, then took her back to the nursing home.  We drove over to see the light display in a nearby town, then came home, watched an episode of Monk together and decorated more Christmas cookies before bed.  It wasn't a fancy day, but it was a good day.  We didn't even have very much fighting between the kids.

Yesterday evening and this morning, I saw friends on facebook talking about how they weren't able to buy gifts for their kids, and I was thankful we were able to give gifts to our children, even if it was only about $40 per child. I think everyone was happy with their gifts, even if they didn't receive big-ticket items.  I had been feeling badly that we couldn't spend more and that we'd mostly bought practical gifts instead of fun gifts. It just put things in perspective to remember that just being able to buy gifts was a blessing.  It helped that my children (other than a few comments) seemed to enjoy their gifts and were thankful for them.  All those hours spent worrying that they'd be disappointed were such a waste of my time and energy.

I saw friends posting that they weren't able to share the day with friends or family, and I was thankful that all my children were home, safe and sound.  I was also thankful we were able to share Christmas dinner with our church family, and Steve's Mom.  I'm even more thankful to know my parents and possibly sisters will be here this weekend to spend a few days with us.  Maybe we aren't taking a trip anywhere, but we spent Christmas with friends and family, and that is so much more important to me.

Even worrying about our gifts and the events of our day show how privileged my life is.  Some people are worrying about basic necessities when I'm hoping I can give my family a magical day.  We had a warm home, with our electricity working.  We had food in the cupboards, a working refrigerator (even if it is in the basement), and plenty of clothes to wear.  We have a bed for every member of our family, and lots of blankets.  We are healthy, even if we do feel like we get hit with too many viruses at this time of the year.  We have nothing to complain about.

I shouldn't have spent so much time worrying about making Christmas good or perfect for my kids.  But I did.  As if it's my job to make Christmas be perfect?  As if Christmas is about our enjoyment and happiness anyway, rather than celebrating the Savior? 

I can not be everything to everyone, though I keep trying to be.  It isn't even God's plan.  He wants my family to look to Him, not to me.  Sometimes, the expectations I put on myself are so heavy. I have to remind myself that is my yoke, not God's yoke.

"For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."  Matthew 11:30

Hopefully next Christmas I'll be able to keep a better perspective. I'm pretty sure that Peace on Earth doesn't include worrying about if my kids will like their gifts, or if they will be bored.  I'll have to come back and read this again, to remind myself of what is truly important, and where true joy and peace lie. 

Always learning, 
April E.

2 comments:

  1. $40 seems like a lot to spend on kids when you have such a big family. We have 8 kids and I tried to keep it around 20-30. (even though we could afford more) They each got one present and they were all happy. This year my oldest 5 gave everyone a gift, even if it only cost a dollar or two. They did this on their own, I didn't even suggest it. I did help them pick gifts they could afford. It was so sweet as they all wanted to "give" their gifts and weren't asking to open their own. It was the best Christmas I've ever had. My oldest 2 even surprised me with a thoughtful gift. If we train our children to expect lots of expensive gifts, they will be disapointed when we can not or don't give them. Christmas is not about gifts, but love. When we love we give. We spend time together, enjoying the holidays, celebrating Jesus. Merry Christmas.

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  2. I agree with you that Christmas is about love. But I've been having a harder time this year with putting unnecessary guilt and expectations upon myself. I've been worrying too much about trying to make everyone happy, and where I think I might be failing. So this was more about my own personal struggles than about wishing I had spent more money.

    I'll be honest that we've never been able to give more than this at Christmas to the kids. Some years it has only been $20, other years $30-$40. Some years the kids have been a bit disappointed to not receive the many things they were wishing for. Kids are kids and their wish lists can be long (and expensive). Then they get older and the things they wish for may be more expensive because they want a specific brand or have expensive hobbies. They are not needs, and we know this, but we still sometimes feel bad we can't fulfill more wishes.

    Every family has to make those budget decisions for themselves. We do not spoil our kids and Christmas is always smaller for our family than most of their friends. Birthdays aren't much bigger than Christmas, either.

    I'm glad you had a special Christmas, celebrating Christ's birth. We also enjoyed our Advent season this year.

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