Stalked by the Stork...a diary of raising twelve kids

Having twelve children is an amazing blessing and one heck of a crazy ride. Join us through all the joys, smiles, tribulations and trials as we navigate this fabulous journey!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Presence and Presents

Yesterday at church, our pastor preached about the chaos and commercialization of Christmas, and how there should be more PRESENCE and less PRESENTS. That it's okay and even fun to participate in the gifts, the giving and receiving of material stuff, but that the need to feel the PRESENCE of God, is far more pressing and important. We need to be very cautious of not getting swept up into the PRESENTS that we neglect to feel, and reflect the PRESENCE of Jesus Christ.

Does anyone else, besides me, struggle with this sometimes? Does anyone else find themselves spending far too much time stressing and fretting over having enough PRESENTS under the tree? Making sure there is a roughly equal number of PRESENTS for each child, and that each child will be happy and satisfied on Christmas morning, and NOT disappointed if Santa didn't come through with what they most dearly wanted? Anyone else spend too much time thinking about what get for teacher's gifts, whether the girls need matching Christmas dresses, what will be on the Christmas dinner menu and how to stop little hands from breaking all the good Christmas ornaments? Speaking of that, does anyone else have a tree that has slowly but surely become very lopsided and asymmetrical in its that while ornaments were initially displayed very evenly throughout the tree, many little, curious fingers have resulted in ornaments being removed from their branch and re-hung at a higher, out of reach level, leaving the bottom of the tree bare and plain, while the top is crowded and congested with too much stuff? Has anyone else been annoyed at the parking issues at Walmart? Found themselves irritated with the ridiculously long lines in Target?

Why do the holidays seem to bring out some of the most undesirable traits in our characters- why do the holidays seem to accentuate those qualities that I, for one, would most like to do away with- the stressing, worrying, lack of patience?
How can I expect my children to truly focus on "The Reason For The Season" If I am setting such a poor example? I want my children to remember the traditions, the family togetherness, the fellowship with friends and the celebration of the gift God gave the world. I want them to remember those things far more than I want them to remember what Santa brought. Yet, I also don't want to become "that family." You know, the family who refuses to do gifts, the family who doesn't "do" Santa. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there is anything wrong with those choices...I know several families who choose not to participate in Santa, presents, or either, and I don't disagree with them- but that's not the choice we've made for OUR family. We want our children to enjoy Santa Claus as a happy and special part of their childhood. But we don't want Santa and his fun gifts to overshadow the overwhelming, life giving gift of salvation God has sent to us, beautifully gift wrapped in the form of his son, Jesus Christ.

So, the challenge remains. Find the balance. The perfect yet unequal balance, where I keep myself firmly rooted and focused on the Lord, non-stressed and seeking to celebrate the season with the joy it deserves, and not letting all the present shopping and wrapping take up to big a portion of my attention and effort. Setting the right example for my children so that they will be better equipped to do a much better job of this with their own children than I am doing with them. So, tonight, I am seeking to reflect the PRESENCE of God, in my interactions with others, in my parenting, and most of all, in my relationship and treatment of my husband (because this, after all, is the one my children are paying the most attention to). If I can successfully set this example, then my children will enjoy their PRESENTS but will truly be blessed by the gift of God's PRESENCE.


Jennifer Lopez said...

Oh Angela, I struggle with that also. My boys are only 3 and 1 1/2 and we are already facing this dilema. This is the first year that my 3 year old can grasp what the season is really all about. I just tell him that Christmas is ALL about Jesus' birthday and that we have presents to celebrate that special day. I think I may tell him that Santa is someone who is happy to help celebrate His birthday by bringing good kids presents. Bad kids need to think about Jesus and what He stands for. I know this lying and that goes against what Christians are taught to do but I don't want them to miss out on the traditions of us mere humans that like to just plain have fun. Not to sound bitter or anything. I am just going to try to find a nice medium and go from there. It may need adjustment each year and that's okay.

As far the unwanted emotions and actions that come about this time of year...well we just have to work on that. Take each day as they come and do our best. I am trying not to stress this year. I am NOT going broke either. Been there, done that. No thanks. I will get what I feel is good enough and the receiver will feel the same or just be disappointed. I can't fret over that stuff anymore. I don't have the energy. Kids will ALWAYS want more than what they receive and will ALWAYS find something wrong with whatever it is they got. That's just life. Eventually they grow out of it and are thankful for what they get...whether it be two presents or none or thirty.

I know this is long and I didn't expect so many words to just flow out of my fingers. Sorry. lol. Hope you don't mind. I know that you will do GREAT this year and every following year. Kids will learn what the season is all about with age. Fights, aggravation, and love are what comes with December. It's all good. We just have to do our best and know that God will provide us with what we need (which isn't always what we want) and provide the strength to make it through the holidays.

Angela & Albert Fontenot said...

Thanks Jen! so glad to know I'm not alone with these issues. I think what you are telling your boys regarding Santa is an awesome idea!

The Collins Family said...

I love this post ang! Something we could all use reminding of this time of year.

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