Friday, December 10, 2010

‘Tis the Season

Ten days into December and I have yet to buy a single Christmas present. I’ve spent the last month wrestling with ideas about “wants” vs. “needs”. I’ve gone from thinking we’d have a “light Christmas” as far as gifts are concerned, to considering not buying a thing. We have so much, while many in this world have so little…. Our needs are met. The grandparents provide plenty of presents for my girls. I thought I had come to a place of peace about it all.

That is, until yesterday. You see, I had to go to the Evil Empire (aka WalMart) to buy a baby gift for a friend’s shower. I’ve only stepped in WalMart about 5 times in the last 8 years. I managed to get in, grab a gift and dash out in the span of 15 minutes. I didn’t realize until later in the evening that “the bug” had gotten me. My husband seemed to notice that I was a bit off. I was distant, lost in thought and a bit snippy. He kept asking me what was wrong and after some digging I realized what was troubling me. In the 15 minutes that I walked amongst the frenzied shoppers and carts full of gifts, my peaceful feelings about not buying presents were shaken up. Inside, I was feeling as if I was actually kind of Scroogey. I was feeling conflicted.

It took a lot of prayer and silence to get back to a feeling of peace. What came to me is this: It isn’t about the gifts we give or receive, but about The Gift we were all given when Christ was born. The focus should be Jesus.

After talking it over, we have decided to spend very little on our three girls. We're considering buying just a few board games that we can enjoy on Family Game Night.

Then, as a family, we will reflect on the teachings of Jesus. He spoke time and time again about giving to the poor.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40)

As a family, I would like to give a gift to Jesus by buying a Gift of Compassion. My favorite organization, Compassion International, has this amazing gift catalog that allows us to provide a gift that will truly make a difference in the life of those in poverty.

The Gifts of Compassion catalog has all sorts of great options, from mosquito nets to farm equipment and water purification. Please check out the link to learn more and consider purchasing a gift that can make a REAL difference.

I have come back to a place of peace about this Christmas season. I am going to be mindful of the “reason for the season” and remember that we’ve already been given the most Perfect Gift.


Jessica said...

I too avoid Walmart like the plague!

But isn't it crazy how easily you can get sucked into it? It's easy to sit strong in your opinions from the comfort of your own home. But as soon as you step out, you're suddenly affronted with all these temptations! I know that's how it is for me. Before I even get into a store, my convictions are lessening. It's kind of scary how fast it happens!

Jill Foley said...

We have a few gifts for our girls to open, and then the final gift they open will be the Compassion catalog. We will look through it as a family and pick out a gift(s) for Jesus on Christmas morning.

Teena said...

Wow, Michelle that is amazing. How did you manage to NOT go in wmart for 8 yrs.... wow.

I have taken a different slant on Christmas this year too. We do buy stuff.... but for the past several yrs I haven't bought much. We are buying some for our children...

I have struggled for years at the stress of it all... this year I have such a peace and know it is from HIM.

I like Jill's idea of the compassion catalog... but I haven't received one yet.

Thanks for your words... they always touch deep.


OneGirl said...

Saw your comment on my blog and was intrigued about the Compassion catalog. Didn't even know about it, but I followed the link from your blog. Wow!! Can't wait to ask my parents to buy that stuff for me - from me - for the kids. So much better than getting more stuff that I don't need.

And I can't believe you sponsor that many. Impressive, and very inspiring.

Familiar Little Frog said...

I sponsor Ritu in Bangladesh and Estefani in Nicaragua. Sponsoring with Compassion started me on an amazing journey... now we sponsor EIGHT kiddos through various organizations. I got to go on a mission trip to Burma to choose an orphanage for our church to sponsor; I've waxed poetic about sponsoring so much that friends have sponsored kids just to shut me up! Sponsoring is the best thing I've ever done (except maybe for giving birth to my daughters...)!

rainstar76 said...

I also do not shop at Wal-Mart if at ALL possible. Actually, the only time I do is when I'm visiting my boyfriend's family in West Virginia because the closest Target is 25 miles away while Wal-Mart is like 5 miles.

I've tried to get my family to donate to charities and stuff instead of gifts, but they don't seem to be that interested in doing so. :/ Last year I specifically didn't make a list of anything and told them to donate either to Compassion, to Hope Medical Center here in Ypsilanti (I volunteer there) or to Central Asia Institute as I believe in the work they're doing in Afghanistan & Pakistan. I ended up with gift cards. :P

So, I say kudos to you all for doing that and being aware of the frenzy and aware even of your own getting caught up in it. And kudos for teaching your girls about these things from an early age!

momijitomitsukoshi said...

Two years ago, we bought our step- daughters, nieces & nephews gifts from the Christian Blind Mission catalogue and Oxfam Unwrapped. We also bought them an additional small gift to unwrap. The reception wasn't what we had hoped, so last year we gave up with that.

This year I'm buying them all just a small gift and when my family asks ME what I (and my husband) would like I have asked them to buy us a Gift of Compassion!!
Perhaps I can teach by example. That's what I'm hoping this year!

God bless you and your family and your Compassion children this Christmas!

Kristen said...

I've been so conflicted about Christmas and presents this year, too. Even when I try to have a simple Christmas, the pressure all around us to buy more weighs me down.

Thank you so much for sharing the Gifts of Compassion catalog! I sponsor two boys through Compassion, but I did not realize the catalog existed. I'm excited now to get a few gifts for family and friends through it!

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