Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The True Meaning of Christmas ♥

I have thought about various titles for this post and could have used any of these others as well; The Amazing Love of Children, What is Special about Christmas? and Thank You to our Children!

Due to the circumstances of our lives at the moment we are living a very, very tight and meagre lifestyle. This has been an ongoing pressure for us over a fairly long period of time. Which we are praying will be relieved very soon.

I am not posting this for pity or as a 'woe is me' but as a prelude to a very exciting time for the children and I (and Stephen from a distance) as we have created a situation that I believe will show us the "True Meaning of Christmas!"

As we have come closer and closer to Advent and consequently Christmas I have struggled with the thought of "How are we going to be able to buy presents for the children, to the standard we have done in the past."
These thoughts have been harder to communicate with Stephen as he is not coming home again until just before Christmas. Trying to communicate and organise major events over the phone is extremely difficult.
So the question still arises "How do we manage to do this?"

As we struggled with this over the last few months, we talked with the children and discussed the fact that we would have to trim down significantly in the Gift giving side of Christmas.
This was I considered a major sacrifice on our part as we celebrate the Advent Season and Christmas BIG TIME in our household.
This is partly due to my own lack of traditions and family events growing up, and I have had a post in drafts for months on 'Creativity and Ownership' that I to post soon and hopefully will give an indication of how much we value these parts of family life.

As we discussed this the children were quite agreeable to this. They had recognised that this would be a by product of the circumstances.They also were more concerned about the fact "were we still going to have the Midnight Feast after Midnight Mass, were we able to do all the cooking we usually do and were we able to celebrate the Saint Feast days during Advent with the usual amount of food and traditions.
We explained that yes we would although St Nicholas day would have to consist of small and probably home made gifts. This they agreed would still be great, they would be happy with this.

I was fine with this but I myself had felt we were letting the children down. That we weren't doing ALL the Advent and Christmas traditions we had built up over the last 22 years. Imagine my dismay when I finally worked out we could not really afford to buy ANY presents at all this year. My initial thought about those empty Christmas Sacks on Christmas morning and this being Arwen's first Christmas was enough to bring me to tears.
I dwelt on this for a couple of days and even whined to a few good friends (thank you for listening to those special friends).

Then it came to me ~~ the solution. If only the children would be agreeable.

When I approached the children, individually ( I wasn't brave enough to do this one on mass) and said that we would not be able to have presents at all, they took this news with such understanding and good cheer that I believe only God could have prepared their hearts for this. I felt so blessed and proud to be the mother of these special children.

Once again the question of traditions and food were brought up and I confirmed we could definitely do these but nothing else. They were so appreciative of this.

And then it struck me -- Christmas to our children wasn't about the presents (although I am sure if circumstances changed they would gobble up presents as fast as anyone else) but Christmas was about the Birth of Our Lord and the traditions and family times we have created to celebrate this.

WOW, this was an eye opener for me. I had never seen Christmas through their eyes before.
However the excitement was just beginning. As I pondered the children's responses and was grateful for their acceptance of the situation I began to have an idea that I would share with them.

The ideas consisted of; " What if everyone was to make a whole heap of presents together and then Daddy and I could distribute them into the bags on Christmas morning."

This was greeted with much enthusiasm. The idea of working together in a "Santa's Toyshop" theme was very exciting. So was the idea of not knowing if you were making your own present.

So in typical Family style we have created a workshop for making Christmas presents. We spent time thinking up a name and came up with "Poor Box Toys Inc." Why this slogan you may ask, because we love the quote on Disney's Animated Robin Hood where Friar Tuck says to the Sheriff as he steal money form the Poor Box- "But that's the Poor Box". It probably has no meaning to you but it is a family culture saying.

In line with our workshop approach the children wanted me to design them some badges to print our and laminate that everyone wears to the work shop, aka the Library room.
I made a few designs and these are the two they loved the most.

The Library room has had many of the materials for making presents taken into it along with the books we spent a couple of hours getting ideas from.
These books are mostly the ones on my side bars along with a couple of others.
A sign was placed out side the Library room and a running work sheet tells us what has been made.

The other requirement of the "Poor Box Toys Inc" was, except for the exception of purchasing a couple of lengths of pine for some wood working we had to use only materials we have on hand.

I am truly thrilled at the excitement of the children on this project and I am pretty excited too.
Today we had our first workshop session and started on some gifts. The children made excellent progress and we had a fun time doing this together.

I have some pictures ready for another post to share with you.
As I share with you I must be honest and say I wasn't sure if I should. I mean, I was quite embarrassed to admit we couldn't provide the 'normal,' for us, Christmas gifts for our children this year and this would be a reflection on how badly we have provided for our children.

Having talked with Stephen though, after reading around the Internet a bit I have seen we aren't the only ones affected by the economy and other personal situations. My intent in sharing such personal information is that I pray that others who may need some encouragement, as I did will find it here.



Kim said...

:D I think it's a great idea, Poor Box Toys Inc. And I'm glad to hear the kids did not have any meltdowns. I think it goes to show how wonderful you and your husband have raised the kids - they truly are Lights in the World. :)

Shirley said...

Well... I have to say that this post has touched my heart so much. We are experiencing much of the same in our family right now, and I have gone back and forth on whether or not I would share about it.

Your right, though! You just never know who may be reading that needs to feel encouraged and know that they are not alone. So, thank you.

You have inspired me. Hearing about your kids precious reaction has made my day. You must be so proud. Thankfully, my kiddos are quick to understand and react very sensitively.

I think that it is a testament to your parenting and willingness to make the very best out of every situation, as well as the character of your beautiful family!!

Honestly, sometimes that hurts my heart too, though. I just feel like they are so deserving... I better stop now. :)

I suppose I should just make my own post, huh?!?!

I cannot wait to hear more about your "SPECIAL" Christmas celebration!!!

Hugs from one Momma to another,

Mike L said...

Gae, I am truly impressed not only with what you are doing, but what you have already done over the years in raising your children. Truly wonderful and Christian.

I also want to thank you, for reading your blog over the last couple of days has changed my thought patterns and I find I am not nearly so cynical as I have been. Your Christian work extends well beyond your family.

Thank you and God bless you most generously.

Anonymous said...

In deed you are not the only ones affected by the economy right now for we are too. Our family will also spend this Christmas without the numerous gifts we lavish on our children in times pasr.
But we will keep alive the traditions with good food, festive decorations, & Advent to celebrate the meaning of Christmas :) These things I think promote a hearty joy in and of themselves in light of the focused remembering of the birth of our Lord.

We do plan however... if we can... to have at least one present under the tree for each of our children. If we can do this then the gift will be one with a practical use in thier lives at current/ or one to nicely fit a hobby of thiers.

Many blessings to you and your family in this season and all!

Mom2Seven said...

Gae, you are a lovely wife and mother. I hope my children would be so understanding if our situation were the same. You and your children truly do have the true spirit of Christmas. May God bless you. JMJ

Erin said...

They really are amazing children{{}} I can just picture their excitement working in the 'Toyshop' this is a Christmas they will treasure, remember and reminisce on. {{}}

jen mackintosh said...

Love it, Gae! I'm so glad you decided to share! I anticipate that this year's blessings will be so bountiful in your family! What a gift of great beauty!

Hugs to you from afar!

Celeste said...

Thank you so much for sharing this, Gae--what sweet, blessed children you have, and what a wonderful Christmas you're sure to have.

Simple Home said...

I loved this post. Your children sound wonderful. You've taught them the love of God and family are so much more important than the love of things. That is a wonderful gift to give our kids. Thanks for sharing.

Gloria said...

Thank you for poting this. I'm a cradle Catholic that grew up without the traditions that your children love so much and I seek to create our own way of celebrating without the secular center on things. It's very difficult for me as I am a creative copycat and have a difficult time thinking up my own ideas. Thank you for letting me and others gleen from your blog (life) to enrich our own life.
God Bless,

Gae said...

I wish to thank you all for your warm and kind comments. I have been blessed by your own sharing with me.♥

By the same token I feel for any of you in similar economic situations. i pray that you are able to make your own Advent and Christmas's a joyful and happy occasion, celebrating the birth of Our Lord.
Once again thank you.♥
God Bless

Judy Dudich said...

I am so moved, inspired, and deeply blessed by you, Stephen, and the children GAE.
Reading your post was like a peek into my own personal thoughts...including tears of facing how VERY VERY different this Christmas must be as to "gift-giving" from those we have know in past years.
Some days ago, I created a little worksheet for my practice handwriting and to have some Advent fun...the kids were to write their 3 favorite things about husband and I were both moved to tears to see that not a SINGLE one of them had written about GETTING gifts...they ALL wrote about celebrating Christ's birth and about having our family all together and having family time!
I agree with you Gae...seeing Christmas through the eyes of our children has humbled me, impressed me, and inspired me to be a better wife and mother.
I am blessed to know your beautiful family and I have a feeling that this will be your BEST Christmas ever!
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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