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Bethlehem ornament

It’s been that kind of week. Or, month. Off. We’ve had late nights due to work Christmas parties and kid Christmas concerts and random things that just come up out of nowhere and require us to be out of the house and our kids haven’t been to bed on time in who knows how long. I haven’t been getting enough sleep, and it’s made me all that much more off. I heard a powerful message on Sunday morning (twice, since I work at the church and am there for both services) and it’s been on my head all week. It was one of those ones that you can’t not do something about.

Noah told me this morning that when he picked Kaylie up from school the other day, she was climbing up and down the snow hill on her hands and knees while all the other kids sledded because she doesn’t have a sled and nobody would share theirs with her.

You can’t tell that to an emotional sleep-deprived mother and not expect her to cry.

I’ve never felt that my kids should have everything they want. I grew up in a modest-income home and always had everything I needed, but rarely got everything I wanted. I always had clothes and food and a bike and summer holidays. But, I had a wardrobe full of thrift-store finds and hand-me-downs, my lunches were usually home-made, my bike was always a hand-me-down, and our summer holidays never included Disneyland. And I think I’m better for it. I never want my kids to have a sense of entitlement; like they’re owed something. I want them to consider their belongings blessings. I want them to be grateful for what they have, not always longing for what they don’t have. I want them to be aware that there are children all over the world, and even in their own city, that would be over-the-moon grateful to have half of what my kids have. Maybe that’s asking a lot, I don’t know.

I seem to always find myself off in the month of December. I’m not a huge fan of secularized Christmas. This is quite hard on my Mr. Christmas husband who would, if he had the cash, have a Griswold Christmas, complete with blown fuses. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him wanting that, but I just don’t care about that sort of stuff.

The “joy of the holiday season” is hard to live up to. I usually find myself falling into a deeper depression rather than being filled with joy. Having it look, from the outside, like we’re a happy growing loving family is especially hard because I feel like it has to be true. It’s not like we’re miserable, we just have our struggles and I find it hard to live up to what I think others expect of us/me.

We’re doing Christmas a little different this year. For the last couple years, on my side of the family, we’ve drawn names instead of getting everyone gifts. We all buy for the kids, since there are only four (soon to be six) and kids are so easy and fun to shop for. This year, we’re doing the same thing on Noah’s side of the family. I love this especially because our budget is tight as it is, and I always want to give people something they want that they’re going to love, and it’s really hard to do when you can’t spend what you want to spend. It’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and it’s made Christmas shopping all that much more enjoyable.

With our kids, we’re getting them each just one under-the-tree gift in addition to their stocking. Stockings were a new thing for me my first Christmas as a Wilson. I’d never done/gotten one before. It’s not like I was missing out, as I was never lacking in Christmas presents growing up, but I didn’t really understand what stockings were all about and what was put in them and why they were done in the first place. But, I’ve come to embrace them and it’s been fun doing them with the kids.

A couple years ago, we went a little overboard on Christmas presents for the girls. It was especially apparent when, after opening her first gift, Liliana refused to open any more. She was thrilled with her gift and was like why would I want anything else when I’ve got THIS RIGHT HERE?! That moment made an impact on me. They have grandparents and aunts and uncles who buy for them (and love to spoil them) (which I in no way have a problem with), and we figure there’s no point in us buying more than one gift for them ourselves. So, we’re not. And I don’t think they’ll notice.

When it came to the sled story, I couldn’t take it. I don’t know that Kaylie’s asked for a sled, but I want to bless her with one. After Noah told me about it this morning I said to him, go buy her a crazy carpet or a disc thingy or SOMETHING inexpensive and sled-like. So he did. For less than five bucks. And he texted me at work to tell me that she was very happy with it. I’m sure if she’d demanded a sled, I’d be less inclined to get her one – is that passive-agressive parenting?

I think tonight/tomorrow/sometime before Sunday we’re going to go over that list and see what we can do to make some other kid’s day/life/Christmas a little better. I think that would bring me more joy than a lit-up head-moving Reindeer lawn ornament or watching my children open more presents than they know what to do with.

Categories: anxiety/depression

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  • Kami Thursday, December 9, 2010, 4:14 pm

    Excellent post! And no, it’s not passive agressive parenting – at all. Giving them what they want when they throw a hissy fit – now that is where parents go wrong.

    Kaylie is a fantastic kid and it’s because of her parents!!
    .-= Kami´s last blog ..Spontaneous Photography Field Trip =-.

  • teresa Thursday, December 9, 2010, 5:34 pm

    yah, everything is making me cry these days, too. especially when it has to do with the kidlets.

    i agree on everything you said about parenting. And, you are raising wonderful, well-adjusted kids :) Kaylie is a sweetie-pie with a big heart. I just love her, give her a hug from me!

  • Jo Friday, December 10, 2010, 7:27 am

    Your children will remember the time you spent with them – not how much was in your bank account or how many presents were under the tree. In the big picture you, Noah and family is what and who make a difference in their world. And you are doing a fabulous job!!! You always have !!!

    What is ‘right’ for a family unit, is determined by the family unit. (Only you walk in your shoes) Other people’s expectations of you or your family are not important, they are merely a reflection of themselves. (for what ever reason, which does not need to be understood, as they walk in their shoes)

    Have a big hug and a great day!!! Lots of love from us, Joanne

  • jane Friday, December 10, 2010, 9:26 am

    Dear Jen: The first Marshall Christmas many years ago now was a very similar learning curve for me, coming from the low key Christ focussed Braam experience which i really liked,(overwhelming Marshall expectations in my case) from beginning to end!! Stockings, way more decorating, huge emphasis on gifts (and rattling them and guessing re contents) and food and now santa claus when my kids already knew about the real saint Nicolas at the beginning of december……(depressing). I would love to be in a desparately poor place where there is no secularization at Christmas nor for the entire month of december.
    Exxcelllent thoughts and actions re parenting!!
    God Bless You!!

  • Angella Friday, December 10, 2010, 1:05 pm

    Hugs, my dear. I’d say more but PEOPLE KEEP COMING IN MY OFFICE.

    I am at work, I guess…

    Hugs. And Merry Christmas!!
    .-= Angella´s last blog ..Welcome To Animal Kingdom =-.

  • Meg Saturday, December 11, 2010, 3:51 pm

    Even though I’m not a believer like you are, I also hate the mass commercialization and ridiculous consumerism that seems to be the epitome of the whole month of December! I just want to relax with the people I care about, bask in the glow of soft lights, and laugh and love with those around me, and remember that spring will come again.
    I know we have very different beliefs about the meaning of this time of year, but I totally agree with you about how shocking to the system it can be to go from one extreme to the other (low-key to super-busy) when new people and situations are introduced.
    Also, I can’t BELIEVE those other kids weren’t sharing with Kaylie. Especially because I know you are raising her with such a kind and giving heart-how could anyone not see that in her and want to share with her???? It made me SO MAD to read that!
    .-= Meg´s last blog ..Post of Truth-02 =-.

  • Deanna Saturday, December 11, 2010, 9:45 pm

    Thank you for this post, and I think you are so wise in the gift-giving department. Last year I decided I needed some parameters in my gift-giving for my kiddos, as I would totally go crazy if allowed. So this is what I started doing. Each child gets:
    1. A pair of pajamas they can open and wear on Christmas eve.
    2. A special ornament that will be a keepsake.
    3. A new book.
    4. A toy from mama and papa (that’s us parents)
    5. A “bigger” toy from Santa that isn’t wrapped.
    6. A stocking with little things.
    They get so many things from relatives and loved ones, this is plenty from us. And it makes me really think about what I’m getting them and why. I’ve loved it.
    .-= Deanna´s last blog ..advent 2010 =-.

  • Jo Sunday, December 12, 2010, 5:31 am

    We used to give our boys a dollar amount that we were prepared to spend for Christmas gifts. Then, they would make a list of what they wanted, and we all went shopping at Toys R Us. They could only buy what was on their list, so they knew what they were getting. Presents got wrapped, but only one a day was allowed to be opened, starting the 25th. My boys spent many hours discussing in what order they would open things, etc. They got exactly what they wanted (no tears if the wrong lego set was purchased), really enjoyed only one gift daily, learned how to plan, shop and spend within their means/budget. They were the only kids on the street who knew that ‘Santa Claus’ was not real, but was manmade for the spirit of giving.

  • Jo Sunday, December 12, 2010, 5:34 am

    and for purchasing gifts for the rest of the family – it never happened. We decided, as a family, that each of us had enough things and enough daily living expenses that we would give one of the most precious things of all – our time together……….