As I was walking through Bed Bath and Beyond last night, the Christmas music was blaring, the store was packed, and the whole Christmas shopping experience was getting to me. I wanted to just sit on the floor and cry. It’s hard to not get beaten down by the blatant attempt by retailers to work us into a frenzy- the “last minute” “last chance” emails started two weeks ago (sorry but it’s not last minute until Christmas Eve). It makes me want to ditch the whole thing. But that’s like throwing the baby (or the celebration of His birth) out with the bathwater.
My kids have been asking me what I want for Christmas for weeks. I think they don’t believe me when I tell them “nothing.” Maybe they think I’m being humble, or coy, or even difficult, but the truth is there’s nothing I want- nothing you can buy in a store anyway. What do I really want from our kids? Some of my most cherished gifts from them are these- the picture frame with the stick figure family my son drew in it in lieu of a photo, when he was 18, that came with a note thanking me for bugging him to get his college applications done; beautiful notes our girls write in their cards to me; crayon pictures from our grandsons; the military New Testament my middle son gave me the day he left for basic training; a list my daughter made of 25 of the “billion” reasons why she loves me (I carry the latter two with me every day). After 26 years of parenting I’m approaching retirement, at least from full time motherhood (you never really retire), and it means a lot to know if maybe I made a little difference in their lives. Kind of like an exit interview. I can’t be only mom that feels that way, right? Anyway, at this stage in my life, those are the kinds of gifts I love to get. Although if there were some way to wrap up naps, I’d kinda like that too.
Thinking about all this, I realize that if those are the things I want, there’s a good chance that others in my life might cherish the same kinds of things (although the grandbabies would prefer toys over a note, let’s be real), so maybe it’s not the gift giving in general that’s the issue, but the frenzied retail version of it. So for me, my Christmas resolution is to do more heartfelt and meaningful gift giving from here on out, and do it on a more regular basis year round. I want to be the kind of person who takes time to encourage people who are struggling, to show my appreciation to those who touch my life, to reach out in unexpected ways and bring a smile to someone’s face. I have to believe that is more in line with celebrating the birth of Christ than exchanging lists of what we want and checking them off.
What about you- what kinds of gifts are most important to you? And what do you want to give for Christmas?
Warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and an enjoyable holiday season to you and your families with blessings in the New Year to come.