This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. I love that the heat of summer is passing. I can once again enjoy being outside in Florida! Endless fun activities present themselves. Homes start decorating for fall. It’s a happy season for me.
It is also the time of year when I feel frustrated! My children, like the stores, zoom right past fall to Christmas! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Christmas time! What I don’t love is the materialism it saddles with it. I don’t blame my kids. Even without constant TV commercials playing in our house, the advertising is everywhere we turn. The toy magazines have arrived in the mail, every store we enter has the toys and decorations plastered in your face, and the kids start making that Christmas wish list.
And I take partial responsibility for it too! I am not against gift giving. I think it is great fun to open presents together and it does bring joy to give to others! I’m not a total Scrooge! BUT, I want my children to learn that things are not what make us happy in life. And Christmas is not about making a list and getting everything we want on it!
I know a lot of people don’t like my opinion on this, and that’s OK, but, I am not a Santa fan….I don’t do the whole jolly fat man who breaks into your house on Christmas Eve to leave you presents. Or the creepy little elf who sits on your shelf to spy on your kids and report back to the jolly fat man. Sorry, if you want to do it, knock yourself out 🙂 My husband and I discussed Santa (and the other fake holiday creatures) and decided we did not want to do that with our kids. I have no memory of ever really believing in Santa but my husband was one of those kids who made it to 5th grade before learning the truth! He was against telling our kids a lie, even if it is a lie meant for fun. I saw his point, especially when we believe in God and desire our children to have faith in Him. His worry was that our children would have trouble trusting us on matters of faith when they found out we lied to them about Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc. I am not trying to judge those who like Santa! We just do not feel it is right for our family. The funny part to me was when our first child, at age 2, had heard about Santa and was terrified he might come in our house while we were sleeping! Even after explaining to her that he was pretend, she would not go to bed until I left a note on our door informing him not to enter. This is the same child who heard friends talking about their Elf on the Shelf and explained to me how that was very creepy to have a spy in your house who tattle tales. She does have a flair for drama!
In all seriousness, I too am guilty of getting caught up in wants. There is a huge difference between wants and needs. All my needs are met! It is when those wants try to take us over that we get into trouble. Just today I was discussing my children’s Christmas lists with my mother and if there was anything I wanted for Christmas. I really could not think of much but the more I tried to think of something I wanted, my list of house projects came to mind…..
a back splash in the kitchen
a closet door in the bedroom
new flooring in part of the house
a new storm door
The list kept growing in my head and I even started to feel sorry for myself in a way. Those aren’t frivolous wants really (right?)! I try to be careful at all times to buy only what we need, not wants on a whim. And then, a few minutes later, I got on Facebook and as I scrolled down the page skimming posts, I came to one posted by an organization we give to monthly. This was the post:
ONE Spirit Sponsorship Request
This family consists of a disabled grandmother raising five grandchildren and two adult children with Grand Mal seizures. She has applied for disability but has not been approved yet and does not know if she will be.
One of the grandchildren has autism and another has asthma. They live in a 2 bedroom FEMA trailer that is falling apart. There is no insulation in the trailer so in the winter they hang blankets on the walls and gather in one room with a portable heater to stay warm.
Last winter, frost developed on the inside of the home. They were given plastic window kits to try to help insulate the home, but when the weather started to warm up mold developed from all of the moisture.
They do not have running water because the pipes burst and she cannot afford to fix them. She hauls water in buckets from a church spigot and does laundry at a neighbor’s house. Her stove broke and she was cooking with an electric skillet until it burnt out from so much use.
They have no furniture and are sleeping on blankets on the floor. They were given bunk beds but they had to be thrown out because they were infested with bed bugs. There is also a problem with mice.
She is a very sweet and kind woman who remains strong despite all of her challenges and hardships. She is very thankful for any and all help.
If you are interested in helping to sponsor this family, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And it hit me, BOOM! God’s little reminder to me that I have sooooooo much more than I could ever want or need! My children have way more than they could ever need! You could go shopping for toys in their rooms, literally. Who am I to desire more?
- Unemployment rate of 80-90%
- Per capita income of $4,000
- 8 Times the United States rate of diabetes
- Twice the rate of heart disease
- Alcoholism rate estimated as high as 80%
- 1 in 4 infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome or effects
- Suicide rate more than twice the national rate
- Teen suicide rate 4 times the national rate
- Infant mortality is three times the national rate
- Life expectancy on Pine Ridge is the lowest in the United States and the 2nd lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Only Haiti has a lower rate.
This is in AMERICA! It is at this point I pray more than ever for my children to grow up with a desire not for themselves to have more, but a desire to do more for others. Instead of having lists of things they want, a heart for serving and blessing those in need. I know at the tender age of 10 and 6, they are still children who are learning and I don’t expect them to forgo Christmas and birthday presents. But, I do pray and hope that I can guide them to move towards a time in life when they can truly look past their own selfish wants (and yes, most of our wants are selfish), and find true joy in helping others simply live.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
The questions is what can we do to simplify our wants so that we have more to give to others? Throughout the world, children are starving, families are without a safe home, people are living and dying in extreme poverty. All the while so many of us sit in what would be considered luxury to the majority of people in the world! And if we take a good look at our daily lives, I bet there are so many things we could give up, even if only now and again, and make a huge impact on someone’s life!
So this Christmas, please forgo the gifts to me, even though I may love what you pick out! Instead, give to someone who needs food for the children, a warm house in winter, clean water to drink.
Some of my personal favorite charities include:
ONE Spirit: You can choose to sponsor a family and send directly to them, none of your donation goes to a middle man! Or give now and then when you can to the wood or food programs or Okini list.