Saturday, December 10, 2011

Changing Priorites

There are only 15 days left before Christmas and I'm super stressed.  We still don't have our tree fully decorated, I'm behind on shopping and I haven't begun Christmas cards.  I actually don't even have them ordered because I don't have our pictures yet.  We were so late getting them made this year.  It's looking like Christmas cards may not even get mailed out this year.  Even if I ordered them today, I don't think I would have them back before Christmas.  Things have been so hectic around here, and I don't even have the energy to do laundry, much less decorate a tree.  We have a tree with only lights on it in our living room and a Fall table cloth on the dining room table.  I've been obsessing about how I'm possibly going to get it all done.  Worried I'm going to be too weak to cook Christmas dinner.  My stomach has been in knots over what to buy my nieces and nephews and our parents.

Last night I was reading through Facebook and a friend had posted a link to a blog.  It's challenged my thinking and has put things in perspective for me. It's a bit long, but I strongly encourage you to read this post.  Thank you, Denise, for sharing this.

My mom struggled financially when I was a child.  She worked two and three jobs at a time to make sure we had everything we needed.  At the time we didn't realize just how little we had because she had done such an amazing job of making sure we were fed, had a nice place to live and had nice clothes.  It wasn't until after she put herself through nursing school and was able to get a good paying job that we realized we had actually been poor.  We didn't realize that we didn't get as much as our friends did for Christmas, but we did notice that as she became more stable financially our gifts increased.  I don't ever remember feeling I was deprived at Christmas.  However, I do remember when I was in the 7th grade sitting in the locker room our first day back to school after Christmas break. We were sitting around sharing what we had each gotten for Christmas.  Sitting with us was a girl who with enthusiasm said, "I got seven dollars for Christmas!"  I remember thinking, "That's it?!?!  How awful!  I feel so sorry for you."  She acted as if she had been given far more than any of us.  At the time I didn't understand how she could possibly not be embarrassed.

When I became a parent I was determined our girls were going to have what I considered to be a great Christmas.  Our tree would be overflowing with gifts and there would be so much stuff for their stockings it wouldn't all fit.  Then there were the Santa gifts.  I can't even count how many arguments Nathan and I have had over how much I would buy the girls.  He would accuse me of trying to make up for what I didn't get as child, and then he would show up at the last minute with more gifts he had bought.  I was all too quick to point how he was just as bad I was about buying them gifts.

It wasn't myself I was thinking about when I bought all of those gifts.  I was actually thinking of the girl in the locker room.  Although she wasn't embarrassed, I didn't want our girls to be the kids who were embarrassed because they didn't get as much as their friends.  I suppose you could say I was trying to keep up with the "Jones".

I don't know that this year is really any different.  Money is tight because we have so many medical bills we are trying to pay off.  I've been obsessing over how money is coming in stages and I'm missing sales, which means I can't buy as much.

And then I read the blog post my friend posted last night.

Shameful.  It's absolutely shameful how my priorities have been so messed up.  Instead of being embarrassed about the lack of gifts our girls may get, I'm now embarrassed about how I've put my emphasis in all the wrong places.  Instead of being so enthusiastic about Santa, I should have spent more time teaching them Jesus is the greatest gift anyone will ever receive.  Santa can never top that.

I'm also very saddened over how my witness has been tainted.  I say I believe Jesus is the greatest gift, but my actions haven't shown that.  I have one foot pushing Santa and the other claiming I'm grateful for the birth of Jesus.  I don't remember if I heard someone say this or I read it in the blog last night, but if I'm encouraging our girls to believe in a made up jolly old man, what's going to make them believe Jesus is real?

Sara had a friend in elementary school who was adopted.  Her parents didn't hide that from her.  From the beginning it was explained to her they chose her to be their daughter.  When she discovered Santa wasn't real, she was devastated.  Not because he was made up but because her parents had lied to her.  She was so angry with them.  I remember her mom saying she was so grateful they had always been honest with her about her adoption, because if she had found out years down the road it would have been even more devastating than discovering they lied about Santa.  I thought about this last night.  What would keep someone from thinking I wasn't lying about Jesus since I lied about Santa?

I wish I had done it differently.  I don't know what that would look like.  I don't want to take the fun out of Christmas, but surely there is a balance.  Well, I'm not sure I would want it to even balance.  I'd like for the scales to lean more toward Christ.

Because of the grace of God, my girls do understand Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus.  The Lord redeemed what I messed up.  I do think our priorities need to change, so I'm going to pray about how I need to do that.

I am grateful Christmas is on Sunday this year.  What a better place to spend our time than in church praising our God for sending us a Savior!  I know Jesus most likely wasn't born on December 25.  I know it's a day man has picked to be the day we celebrate.  I understand we should be celebrating Jesus every day, yet we live in a world that has set aside this particular day.  I think as Christians we should outwardly show our belief that Christmas is a celebration of Christ.  I think we should be spending time on Christmas Eve in church telling the story of His birth and singing sweet melodies and lullaby's like "Silent Night", "Away in a Manger" and my personal favorite, "Welcome to this World".  Christmas morning we should spend time together singing praises like "Joy to the World" and "Hark the Herald".  I know we could very well do this in our homes, but there something so sweet about being in communion with a crowd of other believers being in awe of the gift we've been given.

I hope my family's priorities change this Christmas.  I hope we spend more time being reminded of the miracle of Jesus than we do opening gifts.  I am going to be praying to that end.

No comments:

Post a Comment