Friday, November 21, 2008

A Christmas of Presence...

This is really really long. Some of you have asked me to elaborate on what I meant by doing Christmas differently. Well here you go. So come back and read it in shifts. My counter will go up and I will feel like I have lots of friends. If you haven't watched the video that I posted a couple of weeks ago, this will probably make no sense at all to you. So do that before you proceed further.

Okay, I admit the title of this post is cheesy but I just couldn't resist.  So here's the deal with Christmas... When we were making our move to wonderful South Carolina, I was overwhelmed by our collection of stuff.. I've never been much of a shopper and when I do buy something, I'm thrifty. It thrills some people to spend money. Well, let's just say that it thrills me to pinch a penny until it screams. It's something my mom instilled in me. I thought she was packing picnics and taking us to the park because she was better than all the other moms. Turns out, she was more broke than all the other moms. Regardless, she taught me a lot about being resourceful and somehow managed to make it seem fun to me. So, I was amazed at how much stuff we had accumulated. Around the time of our move, I read a book called, "Serve God Save the Planet" by Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth. This book was written by a a a very educated medical doctor, and though I didn't quite go to the lengths he went to, this book, along with our abundance of stuff made me very aware of how wasteful Americans have become and how my family had contributed to that problem. I haven't gotten to the point where I'm willing to give up my clothes dryer, dish washer, or stop cutting my grass (or letting Adam cut it that is) as Dr. Sleeth has but I did start to make a more cautious look at our decisions and how they effect our economy and our environment. Since that point about six months ago things have evolved in our economy and I've become even more convinced that the fear I was experiencing about our actions was a reality.

There are so many events that have led us to the decision that we have made about Christmas this year and I don't think that I can accurately convey them to you without boring you to death. But, Adam and I have always been torn about the Santa Claus thing. We weren't sure if entertaining this make believe would be seen as lying to our kids and we were a little concerned that they might later confuse this relationship with their relationship with God. IE: There's this guy, he knows if you've been bad or good. He can see you but you can't see him... You get the point. But on the other hand, we didn't want our kids to "those kids" that ruin it for everyone else.. And, we have fond memories our our experiences with Saint Nick. Our faith made the transition so could it be that we can instill a faith strong enough in our kids? Anyway, our decision on that pretty much came to us just sort of downplaying the Santa Claus thing and trying to make sure that Christmas didn't revolve around it. We had already had a discussion with Emma and told her that we were only going to ask Santa for one gift so that he could buy gifts for children who's parents couldn't afford gifts. We were pleasantly surprised at how agreeable she was to the idea. And were pretty comfortable with that plan.

Until... Adam convicted me of a few things in a few of his recent sermons, one ending in referenced video.. Stinking preachers.. Seriously, he has podcasts on his blog and you really should listen to them. I often question whether God made me to be a preacher's wife but I never question God's leading in Adam's life.. He's doing what he was born to do. Don't worry, you don't have to leave me a comment telling me that God made me Adam's wife and if God made him a preacher then he must have made me to be a preacher's wife. I know that... I just sometimes wonder if this world is ready for that mold to be broken because man am I breaking it.. (sorry tangent) So anyway, Adam preached some convicting lessons of things I've been trying to tell him for years of course :). And then one of our elders challenged the church to raise $8000 to send to a community that doesn't have clean water. With $8000 they can supply a community with clean water... FOREVER.

Before I sound more noble than I am, let me say that about three months ago, I booked us a trip to Disney World for New Years. I had originally thought that this would be the main thrust of our Christmas anyway. Since I'm pulling in a little bit of money through babysitting and all of our off time when we lived in WV was spent visiting family, I decided we needed a vacation. Btw, it's a surprise for our kids so if you talk to them please don't tell them. Emma is going to be so excited. However, since I've never been, I'm not sure she's going to be more excited than I. So, once again, we sat Emma down and showed her a video about what we wanted to do. We told her that we were going to do one really great family present but we didn't want to do any other presents so we could send some money to this country that didn't have clean water to drink.. I told her that instead we were going to make a plan where we would do lots of family things together, like baking cookies and making ornaments for our tree and playing games and that sort of thing.. One of my proudest parenting moments was when she responded with, "I think a family present sounds really good. I've got plenty of toys".

So here's the nitty gritty of it all. Since opening presents is such a fun part of Christmas morning, and well, A Christmas tree just looks sad without them, I don't want to leave that part out. So, my plan is to make them each packages that have things in them to do each event.. For example: We're going to make family tie dyed Christmas pajamas. Oh come on, you know your dying to have retro pajamas that match your whole family.. I handed over cool for a minivan a couple of years ago. Do you think I care if I'm a dork? So in those boxes, I'll put each persons pajamas and some dye. We'll open those gifts and do those activities. The next box will have something like cookie cutters to make cookies. Etc, Etc..

And then, I've picked up various disney character items at the dollar tree and Christmas morning we will have a scavenger hunt where each disney item will lead them to the next item until we end with the last items which will be these amazing plush Mickey and Minnies that I found looking brand new with the tags still on them at a yard sale for just 25 Cents a piece! And along with there Plush Disney Characters that their cheap yardsaling momma picked up will be there DISNEY WORLD TICKETS. I've dreamed it all up in my head like most little girls do their weddings. (I dreamed of using the money that I would spend on a wedding on an investment. The wedding was for Adam.) Doesn't it make getting no presents for Christmas sound like the coolest idea ever? Well we will see. One day, they will either think I'm awesome like I do my mom or they'll get a good laugh when they think of that year mom went crazy. Either way, I'll never be far from their thoughts :).

So there it is.. Be thinking of any ideas that you might have for our Christmas family times together. I know that there is a lot of creativity among you mommy bloggers and I'd be honored if you shared. And I ask for your prayers for our sweet little church. It's full of people with struggles of there own that are so full of love that they put those struggles aside to help those that are struggling more. What a beautiful place to be.



BASSakward Tales said...

dana that is the most awesome blog i have read in a long time...i have not thought about things like that but it sure makes me look at things differently...thanks for sharing.

kwərk said...

Something we did once was each pick one of those Salvation Army Christmas angels and get toys for them. You could get two close to your daughters' ages and have them help choose gifts for them. We actually gave them toys that we had pretty much never used, I think, because we didn't have a lot we could spend on anyone's presents. The gift of giving, I suppose. :)

The girls will no doubt be so thankful for this down the road!

Oh, and you should visit me when you make your way to Disney World. ;)

Hyperactive Lu said...

Wow! That is all I can say. Such a beautiful post... I can hear you saying each and every word and I know this was from your heart. What an amazing story your kids will be able to tell years from now on how selfless their parents taught them to be! :)

Stephanie said...

I love the idea! I remember a friend in high school ... she was the oldest of 4 girls. Her parents were rich and the girls were pretty much raised by their nanny. Anyway, I went over to there house Christmas morning to take her a gift and when I walked in their house there were probably 10 large trash bags full of wrapping paper and gifts from Oalkey sunglass, name brand shoes, clothes, bags ... laptops ... you name it they had it! I think their parents showed their love through buying them anything and everything their hearts desired. Anyway, so I love the idea of making Christmas a time to make great memories with the family and not just about the gifts. I don't think you are crazy ... that sounds like something I'd like to do when Addison gets older=)When I was little I remember making popcorn and stringing it along with cranberris to make garland ... it was pretty fun!

Anonymous said...

no!! It's not a cheesey title AT ALL because you perfectly summed up your reasons and purpose for this AMAZING journey that you will take next month.

Sara-Beth said...

Amazing! I wish I could get the rest of my family (not hubby- the extended) in on something like this!

I loved making Gingerbread houses as a kid, using the cereal, candy, etc. to decorate! You can also make rice and red hot wreaths with Elmer's glue and food coloring. I know I have a ton more craft ideas if you need them....

Hope y'all have an amazing trip! Enjoy the family time!

Matt Wilson said...

please take a family picture in the pajamas. If not the whole least one of Adam. I have to picture adam 1) in pajamas and 2) in tie dye!

miss and love you guys!

K. Pirkle said...

It was our 10th anniversary last year and we went to Disney World for our honeymoon, so we decided to take to the girls for our 10th/Christmas combined. We didn't tell the girls where we were going. 3 reasons 1. I was getting over Mono and we weren't sure if I would feel like it. 2. My inlaws had previously expressed wanting to go with us if we ever went again. We didn't want them tagging along. 3. we didn't want to hear "when are we going?" 1000 times. We told them we were going on vacation in Florida (which meant nothing to them) It took us two days of driving 6-8 hours a day to get there. We finally got to Orlando at night and there was a Disney World sign. I told my oldest to read it. She did and our middle said "oh Disney World, we should go there." We told them that was where we were going. They were speechless. It was so awesome to keep it a secret until 5 miles from the hotel. Best trip we ever made.

Trey and Stephanie said...

i really think its a great thing. if they learn early that its is about more then getting a tree full of presents then they will cherish Christmas no matter what. There are so many things to value, and time together sounds like a great one. They will prob feel better by giving to someone who needs. Oh and you will love disney! us floridians take it for granted, but it is truly the most magical place to go! Trey acts like a 6 yr old there! lol have fun!

Tony and Susan said...

i wrote something nice and clever and it evaporated into cyberspace before it posted. here's the part i can remember:

suggestions: wrap up a couple of christmas movies, make a palet on the floor and have a movie marathon.
wrap up some christmas books and choose a different random place to read them (in a dry bathtub, under a bed, etc :) )

i think that what you are doing is super cool! make sure that after you come up with all of your things that you post everything you did so we can steal your ideas :).

and i'll tell you even though you didn't want to hear it...i think you're an awesome preacher's wife because you exude love!

ps. the theme for winterfest is love others, it's not the one you mentioned so i guess you're not going ;)