Not even close.
I’m not even close to having the Christmas shopping done for my mega-sized family of ten. Plus all the extended family. And business colleagues. And cookies for the neighbors.
I could tell you all the reasons, how I’ve been under a book deadline and work has been crazy and the podcast has been rolling like a train and the kids’ school and dance activities are at full tilt (with twin science projects due this week, Lord help…) and how it’s all so fun and exhausting and how it’s forced me to come up with a concept I’m calling #funfatigue to try to explain the feeling of it all.
But whatever the reasons, the looming truth remains:
I have never, ever, not in all the years I’ve been the keeper of Merry Christmas in my family, I’ve never been this far behind at this point in the game.
It’s okay, I tell myself. I know how to do this. I’m seasoned. I just need a hot minute and a warm computer and a cold determination and I can knock this out.
My husband Michael really wants to get in the game this year. He’s looked up after years of Christmases in which he was crazy busy and he felt like he didn’t get to be part of the planning and presents like he wanted to be. So he’s waving his hand to get into the game, taking it from a solo sport to a team experience, which is awesome.
But it also means we need to find time on now two calendars for the whole hot minute, warm computer, cold determination this.
This post is sponsored by Compassion International.
And part of it is the changing nature of the family experience around here. While we’ve still got younger kids living at home, no one this year is a Claus devotee, if you catch my drift. The items on the Christmas list have shifted from a kaleidoscope of toys to sports equipment and electronics and specific requests. It’s all good, it’s all still a lot of fun, and there is still room to surprise and have the unexpected show up under the tree.
I’m slightly in full panic. But I’m also reminding myself about what we’ve been trying to show our kids through all the Christmas, the ones with the Barbie Dream House and the ones where what they really want is money toward that unexpected car repair.
And that is this:
You don’t need every single thing on the list to have a completely wonderful Christmas. You don’t have to eat every single cookie. You don’t have to put out every single decoration.
You do need…
A moment beyond yourself. A moment where you give. A moment where someone else’s life is enriched. A moment in which the ‘wants’ of Christmas are kept in check with the ‘needs’ in someone’s life that we can help provide. Even in the small ways.
Years ago, one of my children slipped a couple of slim packages beneath the tree for two of her siblings. Those presents didn’t look all that substantial, just flat rectangles wrapped in bright red and white paper with a carefully affixed bow. What was inside carried a lot of weight.
She had sponsored a child for two of her siblings, in their names.
They were surprised. They were honored.
And it was a gift that lasted far beyond Christmas, both for the children who were sponsored, and for the ‘recipients’. Through the following months, my daughter who had placed those slim packages under the tree worked with her siblings to help cover the small cost, until they were ready to take it over themselves. It still goes down as one of the most thoughtful, important gifts she could have given them, an opportunity to reach halfway around the world and support and resource kids in need.
That moment, when those flat rectangle packages were opened, when the faces of two children who needed basic nutrition and medical and educational care came into focus in the midst of a sea of wrapping paper and bright toys, it recalibrated everything. Not with some sense of guilt, but with a sense of wonder and empowerment to make a difference. It was sweet, it was profound, and it told the Christmas story in a way that all the stockings and music and activity couldn’t.
We love because He first loved us.
So if you’re way behind like me, I get it. And if you’re already thinking you’re all done, and congratulated your organized self, take a pause.
Let’s add this to the list, the one must have Christmas gift we should all have under our tree. Make it a flat, rectangular package in the wrapping of your choosing. Put whatever gift tag you want on it. But inside, make sure it’s there, this moment to step outside of a bright, fun, technicolor toy Christmas. Make sure there is the face of child through Compassion International who, for just over a dollar a day, will have their life changed forever by your family this Christmas. Give a gift of education, health, nutrition, and spiritual shepherding to someone who wouldn’t otherwise receive it. Make sure that child has a place under your tree, and experience with wonder of what Jesus did for us, that He would connect hearts and lives across the world, all by coming to this earth Himself as a child in difficult circumstances.
Whatever else ends up under your tree this year, last minute or well-planned, make room for just one more gift, the gift of a moment beyond yourself.
And make it a truly Merry Christmas. Go to compassion.com/allmomdoes and sponsor a child today.