Nothing can evoke in me the spirit of Bah Humbug! more surely than wandering up and down the aisles of Walmart, trying to get some ideas for gifts.
I hate the feeling that gifts are obligatory. “So-and-so will be expecting a gift, but I have no idea what she wants.” Or “Please bring a gift in the $5-$10 price range for an exchange on Friday.” All that is, to me, is a time consuming waste of money. Nobody needs more junk, and if you don’t even know whom will be receiving your $5-$10 gift, how can it possibly be thoughtful or personal?
All too often, I let those grumpy thoughts permeate the whole of my Christmas gifting experience.
Fortunately, this year I have had some gift-giving experiences that have reminded me what it is all about:
After our trip to the dollar store, I overheard Josh and Jonah excitedly wrapping all of the presents they had selected for their cousins and siblings. They were confiding in and helping each other as they wrapped.
When the FedEx man admired our citrus trees, we invited him to pick all he wanted. On his next round of deliveries he brought a big bag and picked oranges to his heart’s content.
For my mom and each of my sisters, I made an apron.
It was made from a blanket that my grandmother had given to my mom many years ago, which was now falling apart. I cut it up and converted it into aprons so that each one of us could have a piece of that memory to hold on to. It was a gift that I was truly excited to give. I even enjoyed the time I spent wrapping them just right.
I guess I can’t change the whole culture of commercialism. And I can’t realistically avoid all of the exchanges that, to me, seem pointless. But I can do a better job of enjoying the meaningful gifts, and focusing on the true spirit of gift-giving.
And I can take more time to ponder the ultimate gift… the gift of a Savior.
One of my highlights in November was to pull into my driveway everyday and see the change in the orange trees. At first they looked like this:
As the fruits ripened, I would see hints of orange peeking out from the green. Every day they seemed to be getting braver.
I had planned to take a picture every day from the same spot, to document the change.
Unfortunately, I only remembered a couple of times. I mean… I remembered to ask Jeff a couple of times.
Time to bring out the citrus juicer!
‘Tis the season! Maybe not for snow, but we have the most stunning bright, gold leaves!
The cottonwoods, the pomegranate, the apricot, and the peach trees are all putting on beautiful displays. Green grass on the orchard floor is littered with oranges and yellows of different shapes and sizes.
Every day I go out and stand under the apricot tree and marvel. I can’t believe it’s all happening in my very own yard!
These three boxes are the first “gifts” to be placed under our tree every year. After we decorate the tree, but before we read a Christmas story and sing carols, we talk about the wise men. We talk about how they traveled far, and wanted to bring the very best gifts they could think of to give to the baby Jesus.
We talk about what gifts we would want to give to the Savior. We talk about the scripture that says “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
And then we commit to making Christmas time a season of kindness, and of giving gifts to the Savior by loving and serving one another.
After each pre-meditated kind act, we put a “gem” (a.k.a. little transparent rock-like thing) in one of the boxes. The idea is to fill those boxes up with acts of kindness.
It’s just a simple little tradition, but it seems to really help us focus on the true spirit of Christmas.
My friend Crystal has a fun dinner time tradition. Every night they go around the table and everyone gets to tell their “high” and their “low” for the day.
In a frantic attempt to keep my family at the table for longer than the 30 seconds it takes to devour the meal, I have been asking for everyone’s highs and lows. It’s a fun way to share what is going on in each others’ lives.
Here are a few of my highs lately:
Reading in my hammock with the perfect amount of sunshine on my skin
Jumping on the trampoline with Jonah and Simon
Setting up the Christmas tree, and listening to all the kids say “Oh! I remember this one!” as they take out each of their ornaments.
Watching Simon imitate everything his siblings do or say
Getting those stinky baby chicks out of my dining room and into the coop where they belong.