Joy comes from some of the most unexpected places.
Christmas is coming, or so I hear. You see, I have had a bit of trouble getting into the spirit this year.
For the first time.
In. My. Life.
It was brought to my attention early in the season that Christmas had become one of my "high places." Why would that be bad you ask?
Well, for starters any high place that comes between you and God is a sizeable issue but beyond that... this "Christmas" that was my high place, was nowhere near what God had intended. I had blindly lost sight of the reason for the season.
Sure, I knew we were celebrating Jesus' birthday. (Regardless of whether he was actually born in December or not) I thanked God for his priceless Son for a few seconds a day and don't get me wrong, I genuinely meant it. But I was literally spending hours planning the gifts I was going to get my girls for Christmas. Focusing on the best possible present I could give them...or so I thought.
I missed the point.
This year we are on and sticking to a pretty tight budget and life has happened here and there and I have slowly watched that Christmas present buying budget shrink into a mere existence and as that budget shrank so did any hope of seeing my Christmas spirit. I started noticing something was wrong. Seriously wrong, when I cringed inside each time my daughter would light up with excitement about Christmas morning. I was dreading it. Terrified of her disappointment. Terrified of ruining Christmas for her.
Then, as usual, it hit me ... (I am beginning to realize that by "it" I mean God. ;)
If I can ruin my child's Christmas spirit by not buying them enough things, toys, and gadgets that won't last more than a year at best I am doing it wrong. I HAVE been doing it wrong. I have been celebrating Christmas in the worldly way and inviting God to join us. I should be celebrating Christmas in God's way and asking the world to join us. Period.
The only answer I have as to how is.... love. Show them love. Let them see you show others love. Spend the time the worldly way of Christmas takes away from them with all the running and shopping ....with them. Reading. Laughing. Talking. Focused attention solely on them and teaching them to show love to others. Something tells me God will do the rest.
I should be teaching my girls the gifts that come from a simple smile, a kind word, and loving heart. Gifts that last much longer than a year. I should be teaching them that the best present comes from being in God's presence and knowing that He is Love.
I have no delusions that this will be easy. They are young and squirrelled by the new and shiny. There very well may be disappointments along the way. Does this mean I will never buy them a present? No. It just means my goal has dramatically changed. I am not terrified of disappointing my children. I am excited by the opportunities to show them beauty in the world and create lasting memories. I even feel a little twinge of Christmas Spirit coming on as I think about the endless possibilities that this allows. And if, when the time comes, my girls leave home valuing His presence over presents I'll know that I have given them the best present I could possibly give them. The gift of knowing God's gift to us.