As I flipped the calendar over to November last week, I felt it….pressure. Pressure to make the next 8 weeks amazing. Pressure to find just the right gift for everyone on my Christmas list. Pressure to make sure that all my I’s are dotted and my T’s are crossed for all of the events that we have coming up. Pressure to be perfect.
I’ve decided not to give in to the pressure. This pressure that I feel is a lie. A lie that says that if everything isn’t perfect I’m somehow not good enough. A lie that says that if I don’t give my kids the best ever ultimate gift, they’ll grow up feeling unloved. A lie that says that if someone doesn’t give me a gift that I want, they don’t love me or they would know what I really wanted. A lie that says…(go ahead, fill in your own lie).
I’ve struggled with these lies most of my adult life. Fortunately, my husband doesn’t struggle with these lies and he’s helped identify and reject them. Today I want to tell you that your worth is not based on what gifts you give or receive.
Last year, I mentioned that we spent 3 of the last 10 Christmases with Carl being unemployed and the 10 first Christmases with him being in school and living below the poverty level. I know what it feels like to not have the money to buy gifts for those that I love. It’s hard but I wouldn’t trade those years for anything because I learned so much about gratitude and giving.
My focus these days is to have the mindset of blessing others. I want my children to want to bless others. Let me just say, that I don’t think that it’s what you do on Christmas that creates ungrateful brats (and we’ve all seen them), it’s what you do the other 364 days.
One of the ways we bless others is by giving homemade gifts. Every year during the summer I make 60 half pints of dewberry jelly and wild grape jam to give as gifts in addition to what we need for our family. We give these as hostess gifts to those who invite us to their homes during the holidays. We also give them to all the workers where my children go for AWANA, the other pastors’ families at our church, our homeschool co-op teachers and dance teachers. It’s such a little thing but it blesses them.
Here’s the deal, I know they don’t serve for free. I know they are getting paid to do a job. But these are jobs that bless us and it’s really good for my family to show some appreciation for those jobs. It also helps my kids (and me) focus on someone else rather than ourselves. So, in that sense, it helps keep us grounded during the holiday season.The other thing we do is make cookies and candy…a lot of cookies and candy. We package these up in simple bags or tins and share with our community. We share with the post lady, the UPS guy, the guy who runs the county recycle place (when we lived in town we gave them to the garbage collectors), the librarians, the police station and fire station that are closest to us. We make little cards thanking them serving our community.
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