The Grinch and Scrooge teach us that giving, or blessing others, is what this season is about, is what this world is about, and that in giving to others, we give to ourselves…in blessing others, we bless ourselves.
As a parent, I have wanted to give my girls all the things and opportunities that I felt I didn’t get. I didn’t want them to have to struggle, and I didn’t want them to learn a life of feeling deprived. I’m not talking about a life of deprivation where one chooses to have less and live simpler; I’m talking about being surrounded by this “cruel, crazy, beautiful world” and seeing only lack.
I wanted to swallow the world and lay it at their feet.
And so I’ve struggled and fought to surround them with beauty and love and abundance. In doing so, I have been richly blessed.
In doing so, I have made some poor financial choices that I am still living with and have set a high expectation for Christmas presents that I may not be able to meet this year.
When I picked the girls up from youth group on Sunday night, they told me about a video they’d watched. Some parents were asked to give poor presents to their children and record what happened after the presents were opened. One child got a potato, another a jar of pickles. My girls scoffed at the temper tantrums those kids threw, at how “spoiled” the kids acted. I asked which of those gifts my girls wanted for Christmas. Laina wanted the potato, and Lexi wouldn’t choose so she gets an orange (her grandparents always put one in the stockings).
We joke about it, but in reality it’s not funny when I don’t have money to fix the oil leaks in my car, let alone buy presents for my daughters. This semester has been tough because I have less classes, and we’ve gone without a lot. We’ve also kept busy with work and school, so we’re making it work.
Still, it’s Christmas, the time of year when people believe in peace and hope. In magic. It’s also the time of year when many people are stressed (too much to do, too much to buy, too little time, too little money), and this year, 2012, has the added tension of the end of the year predictions.
I have heard of friends saying that they are re-gifting this year or that they are only buying local or only making gifts. I believe in all of those great ideas.
Yet Lexi wants the new Taylor Swift Wonderstruck Enchanted perfume, and Laina wants an Ipod (or Ipad, she’s fine with either) while I want $5000 to pay things off, fix my car, and catch up. And, we all need new phones as ours are barely working), haircuts, Mary Kay skin care, and the list goes on.
(Side note: When I read this entry to Lexi and Laina, they thought I was being unfair to only list the highest priced items on their Christmas list, making them look like spoiled brats, when they are also asking for less expensive items such as the new Veronica Roth book, Free Four, for Laina and the Spring Awakening Broadway soundtrack for Lexi; therein lies my problem as I want to get them most of their wishes, not merely one or two. And, I want to surprise them with something they will love but haven’t thought of yet. Like the genie in the lamp, I want to grant their wishes and help make their dreams come true; however, the genie isn’t free, so instead, I will be like the ghosts of Christmas: while doing what I can, I will teach them to create their own dreams by believing in themselves, taking action, and giving to others.)
But if the world is really going to end in less than two weeks (and I don’t believe it is), then none of those things matter. It’s okay that my car has a burning oil smell when I drive it, that we are using broken phones, that we have split ends, that we are out of good skin care products, that we don’t have the newest technology, etc.
Those are all okay because we are okay. We are alive and safe and loved, wanted. We have music and friends and sunshine. We have food, a vehicle that runs, a room of our own, and a place to call home. We can go to the beach and watch as the waves crash against the shore, as they always have. Or, we can watch a movie. We will be together.
But what about that moment?! The moment that is part of what makes Christmas magical…the moment when you are about to open a present and you don’t know what’s inside but it could be your heart’s desire. It could be everything you’ve always wanted, or everything you’ve always needed but didn’t know you were missing. That moment that takes your heart, broken and splintered and bruised that it is, and fills it with light and love and warmth so that it grows bigger and brighter, so that it glows with healing. That moment is precious to the one who receives and the one who gives, and I want to be part of that with my girls.
I don’t know yet what I am going to do about presents this year, but I do know that our holiday break will be filled with love and laughter and giving.