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Taking Christmas back

Stacy Lynn. Photo by Indigo Peaks Photography.

ROCKWALL, TX (Dec. 6, 2014) I decided I want Christmas back! I want to avoid the traffic jammed parking lots, the Black
Friday shopping, the long list of gifts for everyone I seem to weave to in my day, and I want to stop spoiling the children.

Ouch…I know I probably just lost many of you reading this article, and I’m sorry if you stop reading – but it has to be said.  I have been guilty, too. I am not here to point fingers, but to offer some insight and suggestions for this holiday season.

You see, last Christmas was the first Christmas I was going to have my (then 5 year old) daughter with me since her dad and I divorced. I was so excited and I wanted to do it up big. I wanted to get her anything she wanted and I wanted her to remember it forever. I recall running to do a last minute Target run to buy more gifts, just to make sure I had enough. I
knew it was crazy when I was in the store filling up my cart, but I could not stop either. I was competing with myself to make this the ‘best ever.’ After the wrapping paper was cleaned up and the gifts were opened, I watched the toys sit for weeks and months; I learned a very valuable lesson that Christmas is truly not about the presents. The sad thing is that I already knew that, but yet I got sucked in anyway! I will not do it again and you can all hold me accountable now.

As a mother of a 6-year-old daughter and a step-mother to two daughters (16 and 13), I worry that they are assigning happiness to consumer goods – and not to the spirit of Christmas, family memories or giving back to those in need. I worry about it because we get caught up in materialism and we start to tie together gifts and happiness. How is it that Christmas has become more about getting and not giving? How can we try to change that? Here is what I came up with for this year. It is a work in progress, but maybe one or two things may work for your family, too.

First, we need to avoid asking our kids over and over, “What do you want for Christmas” and, “What are you asking Santa for this year?” We are the ones who are telling them to start asking for things. Wow!! I said those exact words this year to my daughter and I wanted to slap myself! It is so natural and it has been done for years and years and each time we see a family member or friend they will also ask your children this same question. We ask because we want to get them things they want and are interested in, but in reality we are teaching them to become more materialistic. It is not easy and we can’t stop everyone from asking of course, but try to be more cognizant of this simple but potentially harmful question this holiday season.

Second thing we need to do to get our holiday season back is to create memories! Over the years the kids will forget most of the toys you (or Santa) gave them, but hopefully they won’t forget the carriage rides, hot coca in the car while looking at Christmas lights, gingerbread house decorating, baking cookies with Granny and decorating the tree together as a family.

Looking back at my childhood I remember a few significant gifts but I have very clear images of my family and what Christmas looks like to me. I want that same thing for all three girls as they grow up and raise their own families. I have wonderful family traditions and memories and not one is a tangible item. I hope down the road our girls can say the same about theirs.

Finally I believe in giving back all year long, but this time of year it is important because we can balance out the wanting and taking to the giving and helping towards others. If you want to fill your heart and your children’s then start by buying presents for children who wouldn’t get any if it wasn’t for your family. Seek out a family in need and maybe they would love some food to make a nice holiday meal or to go buy new warm jackets this winter. Each and every community has a population that is in need in some capacity and seeking them out and bringing your children along to help others may be one of the best gifts you can give you and your children.

This season I volunteered to adopt two homeless children who had a need and a want list for Christmas. One of the children is an infant who needed clothing this winter. I decided to bring my 6-year-old daughter with me to the store and I explained to her what we were doing. At first she could not grasp the concept of a baby who did not have a home like hers. We talked about what he might need and we left with two huge bags of clothing in different sizes for him to grow
into to as well. My daughter picked out shoes, pajamas, hats, a bathing suit, two warm coats and a Christmas outfit, too. Then as we were paying she insisted that he get toys too so we added puzzles and stuffed animals to the pile! After the store we went to pick out wrapping paper and then while we were wrapping we kept talking about the baby and the family and how lucky and blessed we have been. I knew this experience had touched her heart and she learned a lesson about giving and also being thankful that day. I don’t remember how much we spent on that little boy, but I know it was worth every penny and more!

It wasn’t until a few days later that I really knew doing this activity and teaching my daughter about giving was something that will change us all forever. A few nights after the shopping adventure I tucked her in bed and several minutes later I heard her talking so I went to the door to listen. I heard this sweet voice praying to Jesus to help the little boy and his family find a home, to watch over them and keep them safe and to let us know what else he needs as he
gets bigger. I stood there in the hallway with tears running down my cheeks and I knew in that instant this Christmas was special because it was the true beginning of shaping my daughter’s heart for giving and caring about others.

I am not saying we should not buy our kids presents, but I am saying that we need to keep the main focus off of the bad and crazy part of the holiday season and really make an effort to be family oriented and less about the material things. I have not decided what to buy our girls for Christmas yet but I do know this Christmas is already a success and a million times more memorable that last years was. I won’t wake up Christmas morning and get to unwrap presents under the tree because it is her year to be with her dad on Christmas. My heart will feel a little empty for sure, but I’ve already made Christmas memories this year that I will treasure forever and one day tell her children about.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season.

By Stacy Lynn, Rockwall mom and Realtor with JP & Associates Realtors. Read her “Not So Southern Stacy” guest column at BlueRibbonNews.com, which includes Coupon shopping: How to clip your way to savings and On a tank of gas from Rockwall, Texas.

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