Monday, December 01, 2008

Presents vs. Presence

I saw this video posted at least 5 times today as I took my daily dose of blog reading. Finally I clicked on the play button and watched. I was impressed, inspired, convicted. Every single Christmas since we've been married, Eric and I have embarked on a journey to create Christmas, the right way. To date, we haven't arrived at the perfect blend of tradition, creativity, generosity, single-mindedness, worship or spontaneity that is our goal. But, we're on the road, and to quote one of my favorite Indigo Girls songs, "We get to have some answers when we reach the other side. The prize is always worth the rocky ride."

So, we start the conversation again... I showed Eric the video. He said, "That's cool. Really cool. But we already spent our money." Which is true- I say with relief, "I've finished our Christmas shopping for the year." As I said before, we've been on this road for awhile, hence I did make a point to go pretty simple this year, and we did not spend gobs of money. So, to some extent, I am satisfied.

Satisfied, but not at peace. Could we give some of our presence? Perhaps we could give some of our time. Some of our relational nature. I loved Carrien's post on this topic. We talk about this sort of thing every year, and still haven't made significant changes. We are sluggish, meanwhile our souls are growing brittle and there is work to be done.

This video isn't the same ol' "Reason for the Season" stuff. I like it a lot. A plan is formulating in my head... maybe it'll spill out onto the keyboard one of these days. Until then, I'm curious- how do you make the Christmas season worshipful? How do you fight consumerism? How do you rethink Christmas?

And I remind myself, life is the journey, the rocky ride. So lets go forward on the road, reworking and fine tuning as we go.


Anonymous said...

We think about this a lot too, but like you haven't made as many changes as I think would be healthy. We started from scratch about Christmas, since Vance didn't grow up celebrating it. That has helped us not be mindless about the whole thing.

We do gifts, and I think I'm generally happy about it. God gives good gifts to his children, and it is a joy to get to imitate him in that. I think the challenge is to walk the line between generosity and materialism. For us, I think that means just giving our kids one or maybe two gifts for Christmas. I love the idea of giving your kids money to spend on blessing someone else!

For us, too, I think a lot of our efforts have gone to de-emphasizing the gift part through amping up our other traditions. We're working on a huuuge Advent calendar project, for example. Other good ideas I'd like to implement at some point, especially when the kids are older are working on a surprise anonymous gift for someone we know at Christmastime, and bunking down in sleeping bags as a family to watch a movie together and fall asleep on Christmas night(got that idea from the Bices).

I don't want to be stingy towards my family, because they are the ones closest to me that I am responsible for showing love to. But I do want to remind myself, and teach my children, to look outward and upward at Christmas.


Ellen said...

I'm still figuring it out. To see my funky history with Christmas, check out the link to the Advent wreath on my blog.

We don't give each other gifts at Christmas. I find gifts to be a distraction from Jesus. I'd rather give Him something. We have plenty of opportunities to give ourselves things, birthday, etc. I have found it impossible to keep from doing some sort of food gift for extended family and Seth's teachers, but we don't give gifts at Christmas to anyone we can explain to that won't be offended. =)

We do not have a Christmas tree because I have yet to find a link between it and Jesus, and for me, it conjures up images of ancient Roman pagan winter feasts. I have broken down and started doing some greenery and things around the house. We have an Advent wreath, and we're trying to do a reading every night. I find that really meaningful.

I hope to start collecting nativity scenes. And I've seen a really cool nativity scene advent calendar online that you can take out the magnetic parts of the scene each day to put up. I'm planning on getting that for Seth next year.

I'm kind of extreme, so this may not help you. But I thought I'd tell ya anyway. =) Good luck!