Then one of them turned toward me, making it my business. “What do you do for your kids at Christmas?”
“Yeah,” the other mother said, “with your seven kids and all, do you do a Pollyanna exchange or something?” (She was still trying to wrap her mind around the size of my family. I could tell. This happens often.)
I smiled and thought, Yep, adding three more kids to our family two and a half years ago has put a strain on our budget, but it hasn’t come to that yet. “No,” I said, “my kids get three presents just like Jesus did. A wise friend shared that idea with me years ago. It’s helped me manage the Christmas stress throughout the years.”
“Wow, that’s a great idea!” the first mother said.
“Yeah!” the other agreed.
Then mother Number One got serious, leaned in, and nearly whispered, “But did your kids ever say anything? I mean . . . were they disappointed that that’s all they got?”
She wanted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
“You know, I don’t remember any comments, but it’s a fair question. I think I’ll go home and ask my two children who are now young adults.”
It’s enlightening having honest conversations with adult children. Some things you want to hear, some things you don’t. Ah, but having a relationship with your kids—ROCKS! So I asked them, individually and privately, how they felt about receiving just three gifts at Christmas.
Here are their responses:
First Born, “It never really bothered me except one Christmas, when I was hanging out with my friends, and I heard about all the stuff Joe got. But you know, I really don’t think the three present “thing” has hurt me at all.” (He's a social worker. He thinks about the overall affect on a life in terms of permanent damage.)
Second Born, “Only during times when kids were comparing their stuff, but that’s not what Christmas is about. It’s about family. It’s about being together.” (He's our social one. If there's a party, he's there.)
We long as parents to give our kids an amazing moment each Christmas morning. Believe me, I get that. I still try to have at least one present each child opens up that makes their eyes sparkle and makes me feel like I’m the best momma in the world. But we all know it’s not about the gifts or my feeling like the best momma. It’s about the relationships. It’s about belonging. Being known. Being loved. And together celebrating the relationship we can have with God. For long ago, he sent His son just because He longs to be in relationship with us. And He thinks being in relationship with His kids—ROCKS!
What are you doing to keep your stress level low this holiday season?
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