I love Christmas. I love just about everything about it- the eggnog, the delicious treats, the tree, the decorations, and finding just the right gifts for my loved ones. I even love the hustle and bustle of the malls as Christmas Day draws near (and intentionally do my Christmas shopping in the last week like a crazy person!) Of course this year we have something extra to celebrate - what a special time to celebrate Elliott's first Christmas with our family!
We decided not to get gifts for Elliott this year. We weren't trying to make some big statement about Christmas and gifts, instead we just recognized that he would get just as much enjoyment from playing with the boxes and tissue paper from our gifts as he would his own, and he has no clue what it means to receive a gift. When he needs things (or when I happen to pass by something I think he needs) we buy them for him. For this year we felt there was no need to wait until Christmas morning to give him those things. Next year will be a whole new ball game I'm sure!
On that note however, I did find myself feeling a brand new tension this year, particularly on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was a fight between my spirit and my heart. At first, it seemed fairly black and white for me - I was seeing picture after picture posted on social media of parents showing off their Christmas tree laden with gifts underneath. Some had few, and some had many, and while I'm quite sure not everyone's intent was to showcase the gifts, I know a couple most definitely were. When I saw these pictures, my spirit felt uneasy. Why is this the focus? Why is this image what we are choosing to "share" with our friends and families? Christians and Non-Christians alike all seem to agree that Christmas is so much more than gifts. Even if you don't believe that the season is all about celebrating the gift of Jesus, you likely believe that time spent with friends and family is far more valuable that what is found under that tree.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that is all I saw on social media. I saw plenty of pictures of families gathered around a meal, and selfies taken on Christmas morning in Christmas jammies. I know the giant boxes wrapped in metallic paper with red and green bows is not all my friends care about. I am also not saying I am anti-gifts. As I said above, one of my favourite parts of Christmas is finding the perfect gift for someone. I love the joy of giving! I'm not a crazy person either- I certainly enjoy receiving as well.
But back to that tension- I'm sitting there on Christmas Day feeling a little uneasy about seeing these gifts, and honestly I'm even thinking about writing this blog about it. There I am scrolling through Facebook as Elliott naps, silently writing a post in my head about how I don't want my children to grow up thinking Christmas is all about gifts, and I see one picture that flips my black and white ideals on it's head. One friend took a picture of her kids coming into the room on Christmas morning and seeing the gifts under the tree for the first time.
My heart grew three sizes for those gifts.
On one hand I still feel all the same about not wanting the gifts to take front and centre in any celebration, but my Mommy heart understood it all so much more after seeing those sweet little faces filled with surprise, excitement and pure joy.
You know, I only put this together as I was sitting here typing, but I think the Lord has already been teaching me something in this.
I've never been one for making New Year's resolutions, but this year I was challenged to ask the Lord for one word for this next season of our lives. Not necessarily the full year- just this season we are entering into. I want to know what he has to show me- it might be something he wants to grow in me, or something that he wants me to experience.
He answered me with two words. Extravagant Love. I look forward to seeing how Jesus wants to reveal this to me in this season. I think he has already given me a taste for it in the eyes of those sweet children seeing their gifts for the first time. All they knew in that moment was extravagance. What they found under that tree was so obviously more than they had expected or imagined, and I can only imagine that our Heavenly Father enjoys seeing that reaction even more than a parent on Christmas Day.
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