Are you a list person?
Do you write down every little task for the day and check them off as you go?
How about grocery shopping? Do you always forget to get something on the *list* that was left on the kitchen counter? Or do you wing it?
Christmas time~ the season before it especially ~ seems to be dominated by an array of lists. In fact, there are now entire websites dedicated to making lists, printing lists. Pretty lists. Practical lists. Funny lists. Spiritual lists.
Apparently we human beings are very disorganized, and very incapable of completing tasks without a list to follow. I’m thinking there’s likely more to this issue which I will not delve into right here. Obviously we are too busy or have too much on the go and therefore we need to be reminded constantly of what’s important.
Christmas lists. These are the lists that strike fear into the hearts and minds of parents everywhere. To-do lists make husbands mysteriously disappear for weeks at a time in the fall. Decorations. Parties. Lights. Trees. Shopping. Money. Time.
I did a quick search on Pinterest of *Christmas Lists*. Oh dear.
Planners. Printables. Color-coordinated. Books of lists. Numbered lists. I was overwhelmed.
And if you select the *boards* search results you may be shocked to see how many
women people have pinned entire BOARDS of Christmas Lists!
Listen, I know your mother-in-law is coming and you want to impress her with your decorating prowess.
I’m sure you are the ONLY mother in the ENTIRE school who could possibly make the RIGHT kind of cookies for the last day of school party. (been there…SO. MANY. TIMES.)
I know something about setting up trees in every room( I did 7 one year) . And it takes some serious organization to pull out those 15 Rubbermaid totes of decorations. (Seriously people, I have issues).
But of ALL the lists, there is none that convict me more than the Christmas Wish List that we lovingly teach our little ones to scrawl out each year.
I mean what could be MORE satisfying than to see the 17 itemized and categorized *most wanted* items that little Freddy would LOVE to have this year? He’s so sweet and he’s tried his best to keep his room full of Lego organized and tidy, right? Well, other than those three containers that he hasn’t opened from his birthday yet. But other than that, he’s really done great.
Mothers. Fathers. I hate the wish lists. I have always had such a heavy heart when it comes to them. And yet, I have perpetuated this cycle in our household. I have encouraged my children to write out what they want. I have encouraged them, when they only had one item, to write more. I have been guilty of one of the greatest sins: developing an attitude of greed and excess in my family.
It saddens me.
Now, we have always told the kids that there’s never a guarantee they will get what they’ve asked for. We have always been open about finances. There have been lean years. And they have known that they won’t get everything they ask for anyway. Well~ that’s what we told them. But there were years of bounty. And we blessed our precious little children. Abundantly. Ridiculously. Shamefully.
Do you want to know what the best years of Christmas were? The ones where we couldn’t give them anything on their lists. The ones where they got what they got because that was all we could afford or because we realized we knew our kids better than they knew themselves.
Yes, you heard me. Our children are not the best judges of what they want or need as a gift. And sometimes. Often. We know more than they do. If you’re a young mom or dad, I get that you want to give your kids everything that you didn’t have. But I will challenge you with this thought: Do you remember the Christmas when you were little and you only got one gift? Do you remember the year that you didn’t get anything from Santa? Or maybe the year that Santa didn’t bring you what you wanted? Do you remember the feeling of opening that one gift that meant more to you than anything else before or after? My guess is that you have one, maybe two, significant childhood Christmas memories and all the rest pale in comparison. Why do you think that is?
When I was about 5 years old, my parents, poor as they were, must have saved and scrimped painfully to buy my sisters and I each a baby doll. There was no wrapping. There was no Santa. There were 3 babies, laid out in blankets my mom had sewn and crocheted for each of us. I don’t remember barely another Christmas . But I remember that one. I didn’t ask for a doll. Neither did my sisters. We were too young to ask. And as far as I know that was the first year we received Christmas gifts. My parents knew us and they sacrificed.
What your child may ask for in October will likely be different from what they want in December. And certainly, it will be different from what they are actually playing with come April. And yet, we do this ritual year after year. We encourage the WANT of things.
I’m not going to tell you to ban Christmas wish lists from your children’s rituals. Each family must decide for themselves. But consider what you’re teaching your children about CHRISTMAS. If we want our children to be givers; cheerful and generous givers, then we should be teaching them to GIVE. And to do it with great joy.
So, for this year, let’s put away the *I wish for ME* lists and let’s make some *I wish for someone else* lists. Little ones can participate too. They know when someone doesn’t have, or needs something that they have. Your children are likely very sensitive and wise about who around them needs or would cherish something special.
Make a GIVING list. Make several. Make a list of names of those you want to give to. And make a list of things you want to do for others. At the heart of giving is service. In order to give, we must serve.
Perhaps you could make a list of random acts of kindness that you could do throughout December and even into the new year.
Make a list of covert mission acts of kindness(men and teens love this kind of stuff and will inevitably come up with some AWESOME ideas) to do on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. When people are tucked away in their houses, sleeping off turkey and stuffing, you could be out shoveling driveways, building snowmen, hanging candy canes on the neighbourhood evergreens. There are SO MANY things we can do(and we will dive into this more in a later post) to just GIVE and SERVE.
Santa may be making a list and checking it twice about who’s naughty or nice but if we’re going to REDEEM CHRISTMAS then we need to be giving lavishly on all, not just on the ones we think are deserving.
Matthew 25:45 Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
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