A little bit of a longer, more sentimental post today, but I think we’re all feeling a little more sentimental for various reasons these days. I don’t often wax philosophical, because frankly, it’s a lot harder to write something deep. It’s way easier to say, “Look at this pretty fabric…” and distract you that way. But I’ve had these thoughts for a while and felt like it was time to put them down on cyber “paper.” So bear with me on this one. And if it’s not your thing, I totally understand and I’ll be back next time with another crafty-quilty project.
I have to admit that about a month ago I was having a hard time getting excited for Christmas. Not an Ebeneezer-Scrooge-bah-humbug kind of disdain, but in more of a Charlie-Brown-sick-of-the-commercialism kind of way. I was walking through Target a few days before Thanksgiving and I just felt yuck. Too much hype about black friday deals or just buying stuff. It made me dread the Christmas season instead of being excited for it. Especially when I thought about my kids. They have enough stuff and I knew that stuff wasn’t going to make any of us any happier in the long run.
Cookies not from Martha Stewart Living
So I vowed that we would not have Christmas be about “what comes from a store” but make Christmas be about “a little bit more”. We needed to make Christmas about other people – specifically, loving our neighbor.
I’d had an experience a couple of months ago that taught me a profound lesson. I was going through a patch where I felt misjudged and misunderstood by some individuals and it totally made me grumpy, if not angry. One Monday morning I had just dropped my kids off at school and was thinking of the huge ‘to-do’ list I needed to tackle that day when I noticed my single, elderly neighbor across the street trying to rake her leaves. I looked at her and thought, “she needs help” but rationalized about how much I had to get done that day.
And then my conscience worked on me some more and I set my list aside and went out to help bag leaves. By the time I got there – much later than I should have – another friend was already there helping. We got the leaves raked and bagged relatively quickly. It was a gorgeous fall morning and I thoroughly enjoyed that time visiting with my neighbors. My older neighbor was so happy and grateful we had offered to help. But I guarantee you, I was the one who benefited the most that morning. By far. When I came back home, it no longer mattered what other people thought and my frustration and burden were gone. I felt happy and back to myself again.
So I knew that helping my kids have experiences doing something for other people would make Christmas much more special for them than a new Lego set or an Itunes gift card. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for presents at Christmas time, I just don’t want it to only be about presents.)
As part of the motivation we started a Warm Fuzzy Jar (see top). This is by no means a new idea – I’ve heard it lots of places, but I share it in case it’s new to someone. I bought some fuzzy pompom balls from the craft supplies aisle and when someone does something good – even if it’s totally simple like saying Hi to an extra person at school or not calling their brother annoying – they get to put a ‘warm fuzzy’ into the jar. There are much cuter variations on this theme, like Calli’s felt heart ornaments, but if all you have time for is the fluorescent puffballs for 1.97 at Walmart, that’s good enough.
We also call this “giving presents to baby Jesus.” Because he is the Birthday boy after all. And since Jesus doesn’t really need a new bike, what he really wants is for people to love and help each other, those are the best presents we can give. Acts of love and kindness.
And then the events in Newton happened last week. Talk about putting life and what’s important in perspective. I’ll be honest, I can hardly even skim the news reports about that horrible event because it makes me so incredibly emotional. Even sitting here typing is making me tear up. It hits extra close to home because I have a 6-year-old in the first grade. I can’t even fathom the grief those parents and that community must be experiencing. Just going to my own children’s school this week for their Christmas program, I kept getting weepy seeing those precious, innocent children and thinking about not only those whose lives were cut far too short, but those who will bear emotional scars for the rest of their lives.
“You are the beast teacher ever.”
And it’s especially sad to have happened right before Christmas. But ironically, it also puts Christmas in perspective. If Christmas is about sales and shopping and stuff then it sure feels pretty hollow right about now. But if Christmas, or Hanukkah, or any meaningful holiday, is about family, and kindness, and loving our neighbor, and “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” then it is definitely richer and more significant than ever.
Thank you again my friends for visiting this blog. Whether you celebrate Christmas or other special traditions, I send you love and well wishes for a happy holiday season with those you love most.
And with that, I will share with you a video that has been my own version of Linus this Christmas season: