“We make a living through what we get, but we make a life through what we give.” – Winston Churchill
During a Christmas season when all of us are feeling the tightening of the money belt,we have to be careful not to get sidetracked with the wrong kinds of thoughts…. “stinkin’ thinkin'” as it were. Christmas shouldn’t be a time for worrying, fretting, or stressing over how much we’re able to buy or not buy. Christmas is a time for celebrating!
Now, having said that, I completely understand wanting to have the house all decked out in beautiful colors and lights. I understand wanting to have oodles of cookies, piles of fudge, and jars of homemade candies. As a doting (there really can be no other word for it) wife and mother, I most certainly understand wanting to buy your husband the best sweaters, your daughters the loveliest lovelies, and your sons the best games. What’s more, we want them all wrapped in the most gorgeous gift wrapping possible.
Then there’s the bank balance – letting you know, every step of the way, that this year isn’t quite like any other. At least not one like most of us have ever seen. Since I can remember, Christmas was always bright, wonderful, and lavish. As an only child, most Christmases presented me with so many presents I was positively worn out at the end of it all.
However, none of the toys, stuffed animals, bikes, barbie airports, barbie townhouses, dolls (not even the one that tumbled) symbolize Christmas for me. When I think back over my favorite Christmases, I think of…
- My MeMe’s divinity – she was paralyzed on one side but could outbake just about anyone!
- My mom’s peanut butter fudge
- The year my grandmother set out her Nativity set and gave Mary’s position to a shepherd and put Mary in the back with the sheep. When I asked her why she wanted to change history, she nearly collapsed in laughter. I was 10 at the time, but her laugh is still in my mind… and heart.
- The year my mom broke with tradition and decorated her tree all fru-fru like with mauve bows, angel heads, and baby’s breath. My very traditional dad snarled at it every time he passed by it. One night as he happened to be turning off the lights, my mom called from the back of the house, “Turn off the tree lights, we don’t want it catching fire!” Just then, he flipped the switch back on and winked at me.
- The first year my husband and I were married – he was in the military and money wasn’t exactly flowing in our direction. We went to a craft’s store and loaded up on supplies. Then we went home and, after I baked us some warm chocolate chip cookies – we made gifts for everyone in our family. They still have, and treasure, them! We had a blast, too. I do remember, however, losing my husband a few times during the process when football was on television. Then, again to be fair, he lost me a few times when UK basketball was on.
- Watching Christmas specials with our girls when they were little. These days, if Johnny Depp, Miley Cyrus, or Tyra isn’t in the special – my girls aren’t in the room. That’s cool with me, my cat Alexa and I watch them anyway!
- I remember our cat Prissy always climbing the Christmas tree -every single year! I stopped using breakable ornaments when she was still alive, because I didn’t want her hurting herself. Get this – I didn’t even use the hooks during the Prissy years. When she hit 20 years, she didn’t get much higher than the bottom branch, but she still gave it a go. Thankfully, Alexa (a good 10 pounds heavier) is content to lie under the tree and sneak into presents.
The list of memories goes on and on and on, but the remarkable thing is, what I received or didn’t receive is nowhere near the top of the list. It just didn’t matter. Laughter did, love did, chocolate did. And Mary in the field.
If you’re cutting back this year, don’t fret it and don’t sweat it! In fact, I’d like to make a suggestion: Take a particular area and do something completely selfless and wonderful instead. For example: If you planned on decorating the outside of your house, use the money for Toys for Tots instead. Go to the website and find out when they’ll be collecting toys in your area, then go straight to the store and buy some fantastic toys to give. If you do this (for example) in place of lighting up your house – you will have a great deal of money to spend on toys.
Which had you rather light up – your yard or the face of a child in need. Not even close.
Another suggestion: If your office normally has a huge Christmas party or dinner, suggest this year that each individual brings in a toy for children. Then, appoint someone to take the collection to Toys for Tots or another agency which is moving Heaven and earth to help children. If you and I are feeling the pinch this year, for crying out loud (literally) can you imagine the predictament others are in? The thought of a child not having a present on Christmas makes me want to cry. (In fact, there come the tears now.)
I’m just incredibly afraid that, this year, toys and donations are going to be especially low and there will be many, many children left out.
Please, please, please go to Toys for Tots right now and learn more about your local campaign.
If you make one precious child smile this Christmas – whether you realize it or not, you had a richer Christmas than most could ever hope for. The smile on a child’s face will warm God’ s heart more than a billion lights. I suspect it’s the kind of light show angels line up to see!