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.  :)


  1. You are giving the best gifts those boys will ever need! LOVE, time, patience, listening, teaching, praying, encouraging, and being an awesome mom! Shea, you hit the nail right on the head when you said "Do we really need another gift after receiving this One?" Every year we get caught up in the perceived need to supply each of our kids with the 'best' gifts and they already have the best! I love that you want to give them more while at the same time realize that the world's version of 'more' isn't better!


  2. We are right there with you. We don't do Santa either. Yes, the questions are endless and my children usually say "we don't do that" or "nothing"- again strange looks all around.

    The pressure is there so often to conform, but this is not something we will bend on. As Carter has gotten older now and is with other kids we had the issue of him ruining the fun for others and their parents backlash. We ended up having a discussion about "the santa game" that some families choose to play. It is not up to us to ruin that surprise for other people (like their young cousins). So far, so good.

    We too, buy very little for our kids. Their grandparents and great-grandparents so lovingly ask for lists. Usually it is books, puzzles, games, shoes, or homeschool materials.

    I must say one of Julia's favs this year was the face painting set sold at Michael's. Such great quality and now we can recreate "fair faces" at home for free :) It's much more fun to play puppy dogs when you look the part :)

    I too, feel that same moment of panic as Christmas Eve approaches, but God lovingly reinforces our heart to be "in the world, but not of it". I want their memories to be of time with family and in worship for our true gift, not the presents.

    Looking forward to getting our Jesus Calling Kids Devos :) Keep at it. You are fighting the good fight and swimming against the masses. I must confess I received a wonderful gift from my parents and hubby- a Kindle. Now I have all my favorite parenting, faith, and devotional books at my fingertips wherever I go. Have you read One Thousand Gifts yet by Ann Voskamp (the Holy Experience blogger). An essential!