With everything our kids could ask for at Christmas, one list isn’t enough, let’s add two more.
Three key elements to creating a meaningful Christmas.
During a time when people are typically (not always, but typically) focused upon what they want, Christmas is a great opportunity to foster a heart of giving. As I reflect upon Christmas 2014, this Dad is ‘proud.’
Why? Simply because of the character and heart I saw displayed within our little family. One, I believe, is from creating simple traditions that have fostered an ‘other mindedness’ during this time of year.
Like others, Christmas for our family begins long before the ‘day’ with countdowns creatively designed and lists created. As a child I remember discovering the Sears Christmas Wish Book. It was like ‘toy heaven in a glossy book.’ Everything I could have dreamed for was found within these glossy pages. I’d thumb through it over and over again. Looking, pining, & longing for the toys, gadgets, and creative things I discovered within. With a pencil and paper in hand I would carefully note each item I wanted, with page number cited, then give it to Mom in hopes of discovering them under the tree Christmas Day.
As mentioned above, our little family of five begins with countdowns and lists too. When Christmas fever hits our home we begin turning our hearts and minds toward the countdown and list creation.
Josh was infected first this year with symptoms showing in early October. He was exhibiting extreme symptoms of Christmas music playing from his bedroom, lights, and decorations being hung upon his wall, and an announcement of how many days it was until Christmas. Yup, he caught the fever first, at the beginning of October. Josh had it bad and with that we knew it was time to begin creating our Christmas list.
I like to call this our “Christmas list with a twist.” What’s the twist? Read on and you will discover it.
First, Instead of asking, “What do you want for Christmas?” we ask, “What do you want to give this year?” This stimulates their minds toward blessing others first.
Secondly, we consider whom we can impact with our presence. We’ve been blessed as a family who love and do spend time with one another. Christmas time is no different. The reality is, that many, for varied reasons, find themselves alone or lonely during this time of year. It is our heart to be an ‘extended family’ to some of these people and in a small way relieve some of the loneliness they feel. So we choose one or more people we can invite to our home to experience Christmas with family.
Over the years we have shared our Christmas Day with single moms, the elderly, single un-marrieds, and university students who could not make it ‘home’ for Christmas.
Lastly, and rightfully last, we ask our children what they might desire to receive this Christmas. We do place ‘limits’ upon the list, by asking what their top 4 or 5 gift requests would be, with an understanding that these are options for Mommy and Daddy to select from and they may not receive all of it.
That is our Christmas list with a twist. What will you give? Whom can we impact? What would you desire?
What impact has this had upon our family? I believe the full impact is yet to be seen and has great potential to be far reaching. We do however catch glimpses of the impact through the character that is revealed, the conversations we share, and feedback we receive.
This Dad is ‘proud’ because of what I saw Christmas day.
What I saw was willing service. Our oldest asked to cook breakfast for the family Christmas Day, “Who am I to say ‘no’ to that request?” It makes my heart glad when a teen willingly serves the family.
What I saw was a family who appeared more excited about giving to one another than receiving from one another. There was great effort made in giving, the creativity, thought, and heart that went into each gift made or purchased showed this with clarity.
What I saw was genuine appreciation. Each gift that was received was received with grace and appreciation. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for a thankful family.
What I saw was a willing offer of the gift of presence. Our family has recently adopted a ‘grandmother,’ someone who resides in a retirement home but does not have family in the area. We see her weekly and wanted to include her in our Christmas family traditions. She graciously agreed to come. I was impressed that although our children could have been off doing anything else, they chose to stay engaged, playing games and conversing with ‘grandma.’
What I saw was character being forged that has potential impact for generations to come. We paused at the end of the evening to reflect upon our Christmas Day, each one expressing that serving, giving, and being present for others was their highlight of the season. A proud moment for this Dad.
As I sat and reflected upon this personally, in my minds eye I see their future. I see each of their family’s continuing to focus upon that Christmas List with a Twist. Serving and focusing upon others? Instead of laying down and dreaming of sugar plums on Christmas Eve they will dream of the impact they are making upon others and the difference they are making.
With that I lay my head down with a great sense of satisfaction that today, Christmas Day, was well spent and that we are creating a legacy of relational health for generations to follow. Truly I received everything I wanted this Christmas.
As we think of others and create a legacy of relational health for generations to follow, may 2015 be a year of rich blessing upon your lives.
Your friend and Pro-Active Parent Coach
Pro-Active Parent Coaching and
The Legacy Centre
Merry Christmas From Greg, Lynn, Katelyn, Hannah and Joshua.