Monday, December 27, 2010

It can't be bought

I'll confess I've been struggling with something this Christmas season.  It tends to strike me every year and it takes a while for me to knock it back and keep going.  I thought it would help this year to write it on out of my system and move on.

My kids got three gifts each this year from us.  Two of Nathan's were books, the other a sweatshirt I grabbed for $10 at the Gap outlet.  He was in love with all of them.  Brady got a book, a sweatshirt and some moon dough.  Both boys loved the moon dough and I'm still having mean thoughts about the product.  Those gifts were from us, not from Santa.  We don't do Santa.  Jim and I decided when Nathan was not even a month old that we would not do the Santa deal.  We didn't want to lie to him.  When he was old enough to understand things, we talked to him about St. Nicholas.  We told him about a generous man who gave gifts.  We told him about the first gifts given for Christ's birth from the wisemen and the many gifts that followed.  He was super cool about it.  When we saw Santa at the mall, Nathan would smile at us and acknowledge the character knowing the truth.  Brady was taught the same thing once he was old enough to understand.  He is still a bit confused, wondering why EVERYONE in the world asks him what Santa's bringing him for Christmas. His response of nothing confuses them.  It will get easier, I know.  And in the long run, my children will grow up knowing the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  God sent His one and only Son down to earth.  Jesus left the splendor and majesty of Heaven to be our Saviour.  Do we really need another gift after receiving this One?  

This is where I struggle.  I want more gifts for my children.  I look at pictures on facebook of friends with overflowing presents for their children.  I hear people talking about buying more for their children because they don't have enough already. Let me say now there is NOTHING wrong with doing this if you can afford it. I see it on television where I'm encouraged to buy more and "make their dreams come true."  But I still don't do it. Last year I did go more overboard than ever before. I went to Target and picked up "just a few more things."  After filling up my cart, wrapping it all and waiting for the big day, those few more things were discarded within a few days.  Some are broken, some are so annoying the batteries mysteriously died after a day or two, some have already been donated to others.  In less than a year, all those things that I thought my children needed have been put aside for what?  I really don't know.  They return to the same things all the time.  They play with their cars, they color or do crafts, they read, they build things with their tools, they drive me up the wall sometimes. Oh, that's not a toy, but that is what they do with their time.  Now that Nathan is in school he doesn't have as much playtime as Brady.  I know in future years the time crunch will be even more intense. 

So this year, the sweatshirts will be worn, the books (including a chapter book) have already been read and the moon dough has been splattered all over the kitchen floor and Kodi's fur. My children will know that we loved them enough to not give them everything Target and ToysRUs sells, but to give them honesty, unfailing love, always open arms and our time.  Our time, that is priceless, because one of the reasons we don't go overboard is financial.  We chose moments after finding out Nathan was growing inside me that I would not go back to work full time after he was born.  I had missed a lifetime of firsts with Harris and wasn't about to do it again.  Making that decision has meant staying in our townhouse, driving older cars, wearing older clothes, menu-planning, budgets and all that comes with one full-time and one part-time income.  But with a smaller income comes time that can't be bought.  Just another blessing.

And just for the record, the boys are blessed with gifts from others who love to spoil them.  :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

I get down, He lifts me up

Nathan falls, a lot.  Brady falls, a lot.  Jim falls, not so much anymore. :)  

This is our life.  It is not unusual to pick up more than one child at a time from a fall.  We call them 2-for-1s.  They have an uncanny tendency to be Dominoes around each other.  They fall when they are running, walking, jumping, hopping, and sometimes, off the couch!  The last one is just because they are a bit goofy!  You wouldn't believe the dirty looks we've gotten while out shopping when the boys fall and we keep going.  Negligence written all over them.  From the beginning of their first steps and first falls, we've laughed them off.  What's the point in getting worked up or upset over a fall?  As little people they have less distance to go so the fall's not that bad.   

Now, however, Nathan is just at four feet tall, weighing in over sixty pounds.  And he'll be six on the 7th of December.  It's starting to be a bigger fall.  Giants fall harder, you know. Again, we take it lightly.  We can tell by the look on his face after a fall whether we need to intervene or allow him to work it out himself.  He's pretty amazing.  I'd be a big ball of tears if I fell that much.  I do trip a lot and have some falls myself.  Clumsiness marrying HSP wasn't the best plan...ah, love.   

That brings us to Kindergarten. We're loving Nathan's school and his teachers and the environment.    But just about every time I go into the building someone, the guidance counselor, the janitor, the teacher, someone shares their concerns about his falling.  I appreciate those concerns.  That means they are looking out for my child. But no one is content with the answer that this is what they do.  They fall, a lot some days.  Especially cold days.  I respond as nicely as possible yet I do wish they would know that if there was something better we could do to help Nathan (or Brady) we wouldn't hesitate for anything.  I think it's pretty clear I would rope the moon for the men in my life.  There, I've needed to get that off my chest for some time now.  Thanks!

I read a friend's blog today where she had fallen and hurt her ankle.  She said it was a reminder from God to rest and take it easy.  I've decided to use every fall in our family to praise Him.  I have incredible gifts from God who fall and I'm going to praise Him for them everyday, with every fall. 

"I get down, He lifts me up.  I get down, He lifts me up, I get down, He lifts me up!"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

I'll love you anyway

Over Thanksgiving the boys spent some time with a family friend.  They knew she was coming ahead of time and were so excited to have someone kinda new visit with us.  They didn't know a thing about her, just that she was coming.

Our friend has cerebral palsy.  She uses a walker, sometimes a wheelchair and wears AFOs like them.  She doesn't communicate as well as others her age.  She has a hard time eating with the manners we expect.  She has quite a few challenges she's fighting to overcome.  

My boys didn't see any of those things.  My boys saw another friend in our house.  They welcomed her and included her, or at least tried, in everything they did.  Even going upstairs to play in their bedrooms.  They didn't ask me why she does this or why she can't do that.  They accepted her for her.  And they can't wait to see her again!

It made me so very proud of them.  And it reminded me of the times I see people who are different than me and I wonder about them.  I thought of being that new kid in a group or walking into a group of new people for the first time and how painful it is.  Since having the boys, I don't like the idea of walking into new places without them. Even going to the grocery store by myself is strange, it's hard to explain the exuberant counting of fruits and veggies when you're by yourself.  Anyway, I thought of how God calls us to love everyone.  Not just the people like us, not JUST our neighbors, our friends, our coworkers, our family, not just the people we see at church.  God called us to love everyone.  My two children, under the age of six (for a few more days) reminded me of that by the way they treat others.  I am so thankful for them.

My prayer for them is that the love they share with others is shared with them.  My prayer is that for all the times they welcome someone who is different, they are welcomed as well.  Life's not easy and I'm not sure I want it to be either.  But I do want my children to be loved, loved, loved.