I've been known to be fanatical about how things go at Christmas. Yes I get completely caught up in the gift giving part of Christmas. I love to pick out all of the presents and I love to use themes. No clue where that started but it did and I do it most often without even realizing that I've done so. I also have traditions that seem to be expected! Last year I made the grave mistake of thinking that everyone had plenty of pj's and didn't need a new pair. Well - it appears that we had been opening them on Christmas Eve and wearing them Christmas morning. How did I miss that?? The scene last year was an ugly one when it was discovered that there would be Zero new jammies. Bet that one never gets overlooked again.
We should have taken a cue from our not quite 2 year old on her second Christmas. She hated Santa and we had to avoid all things Santa. I had a really cute stuffed Santa sitting in a rocking chair and she insisted we "put back". So back to the closet he went. Everyone kept telling her that Santa was coming on Christmas Eve and guess who stayed awake ALL night long for fear of that man coming to her house! Yep - all night. Santa has caused us many sleepless Christmas Eve nights. That same child only hated Santa that one year. The next year she was awake and ready to check for his arrival around 1 a.m. And so the tradition began of waking long before morning. When she became a tween we set limits on the time. (we actually threatened to put pad locks on her door and lock her in) We decided that 6:30ish was plenty early to get up. I'm getting sleepy just thinking about it!
I was so fanatical about the gifts that I would boobie trap them to see if they had been bothered! Yes - Seriously. If one was moved I would know it because I would have a string of lights laying over a particular one and if any gift was disturbed it would disturb the light. Yes indeed - you would not outsmart me and peek in those gifts. There is a reason for such behavior. When I was a teen-ager - I thought it would be really fun to sneak my gifts from under the tree -slice open the tape and re-tape them after I had peeked inside. Christmas morning was miserable. Totally no fun. I simply wanted to spare my children of such an unhappy Christmas morning. I'm just that kind of nice mom to want to spare her children such sadness!
Gift wrapping became another challenge. The girls would beg and worry me about their packages that it became my newest challenge to give them more adventure! I would wrap their presents in their own special paper and not put names on them. So they spent the time trying to figure out which gifts were theirs! I changed it up to different bows one year and numbers and just about anything to keep them guessing. Can you tell I love a challenge?
The year 2001 proved to be a very difficult Christmas. My dad died on December 14 and the terminal diagnosis of my mother-in-law came the very same weekend. I had been my dad's caretaker and he had been very ill for the entire year. I was in no mood to shop and certainly did not have time to spend wrapping. I was not the best person to spend that Christmas with but we kept it together and survived. I was extremely sad that I had no fun wrapping and to top it off I had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It was as sad and pitiful as a tree could be. We were renovating our new "old" house and living in a temporary home full of boxes. All of the gifts were stashed at my mom's and I pulled one more trick out of the hat. Just a few days before Christmas I brought home two large boxes (and I don't mean coat boxes) two rolls of wrapping paper and I made a plan. I took all of the gifts for our girls and placed them in the two large boxes. I wrapped them in the two different papers and set them beside our poor little tree. I apologized to my girls through tears and told them it was the best I could do. They tore into those boxes on Christmas morning and thought it was the best idea ever. They only had to open one box and pull everything out. In the end it turned out to be quite fun.
This year will be another "different" year but it will be filled with lots of family time and through all of the chaos it will be special in it's own way. It has already proved to be way out of my comfort zone as far as Christmas goes. The girls joined me for shopping on Black Friday and picked out most of their own gifts. That is another first for me. It spoils all surprise factors and that is going to stretch me beyond my bounds of control. And I mean really stretch. I keep thinking they will be so sad because they already know what everything is. But I am reminded that they are grown and that is really hard to believe. We have young Owen and he will be surprised but as far as the girls go - they will get to open and enjoy their things but not be surprised.
But if I stop to remember that Christmas is about the real gift of Jesus and that His promises are new every day, I won't have any reason to be sad or let down. The most important gift that I can give is to teach them about Jesus not Santa. To remind them that there will never be a more important gift than the one that was given so freely. The gift that will last them an eternity. The only gift that can truly satisfy us and meet our needs. Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
He was and is our gift. Freely given and He hold everything on His shoulders. He is a Mighty God and worthy to be praised.
So Merry Christmas! Make some great Christmas memories but enjoy the true gift. It's a free unconditional gift. Maybe Santa does need to be "put back" in our closet. His bills can get rather scary after all!
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