Driving to a birthday party last week with the kiddos, Parksalot asked me when we were going to make our Christmas lists. We got into this long and complicated conversation about my new Christmas philosophy, really about my new life philosophy – Less is More. That the empty feeling we have inside doesn’t get filled up with stuff. Having everything we ever wanted doesn’t actually make us happy.
“I’m tired, Little Son. Tired of feeling like our stuff is the boss of me,” I explained. “It all has to be washed and dried and put away. It has to be scrubbed, dusted and vacuumed. It means I can’t always do what I want because my stuff needs tending.”
Big philosophical conversations for a little boy and his 2-year-old sister who was busily wiping spit (well, I hope it was spit) on the car window.
I told him I understood that he wanted toys and books and more, more, more stuff. The holiday blitzkrieg of toy ads has my children happily chirping, “We should buy that!” throughout the evening. So I explained that he already had a lot of stuff. We have shelves full of books, games, Lego blocks and toys aplenty. Do you know how many bins and boxes and buckets kids require these days? Not to mention the outdoor gear. And no matter how many containers you have, it is still never in order or off the floor or remotely manageable.
Next I tried to tell him about how fortunate we were. We never went hungry or cold. We could see a doctor if we needed to. We had shoes. Lots of shoes. There were so many families who were not as fortunate as we are.
“Will Santa come see those kids, Momma?”
Cripes. I hate those kinds of questions.
Because the truth is, no. Santa doesn’t come to see a lot of kids every year. And it’s not because they are bad. It’s because, for whatever reason –sickness or addiction, brokenness, homelessness, poverty – Santa can’t find their homes. And I just didn’t know what to say. So I pulled a What Would Janis Do? trick out of my sleeve.
“What do you think, Buddy?” Oh, yeah! I successfully turned it back around!
After a moment, “I think we should give toys to other boys and girls. But not all my toys. That would make me cry if I didn’t have anything to play with.”
No kidding. That’s kind of the point. He then offered to give me some of his own money to help buy toys for someone else.
“But not all of it,” he added in afterthought. “And that would make God happy and Jesus happy and me happy and a little kid happy! Just like in the Veggie Tales movie we watched about St. Nicholas.” Hmmm … Well heck, I might be raising my own little St. Nicholas here!
After doing some research, we have decided to buy gifts for two children in the CASA of West Texas program where my fabulous friend Kathy Horton volunteers. If you are looking for a way to make a difference this season, the Salvation Army Angel Trees and Buckner Foster Care have more children in need. Toys for Tots, Safe Place, High Sky Children’s Ranch and even your neighborhood school are places to consider as well.
I have been really encouraged this year by the number of families who are opting to spend less and donate more. One easy suggestion sent to my blog was to cut out the Christmas cards this year and donate the money you would have spent to a worthy project or charity. What a great idea!
I would love to know what you are doing this year to embrace the season. Are you doing less this year or more? Let me hear from you!