Tag Archives: Christmas

I Got Everything I Wanted for Christmas by Gregory Bland

too-many-presents-gregory-blandDuring 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
Gregory Bland
Pro-Active Parent Coaching and
The Legacy Centre

Christmas is ForGiving by Hannah Bland

What would you be willing to give up for your family and friends? Your life?

This is the sacrifice Jesus made for us. He was so willing to come as a baby and make the greatest sacrifice for sin so we could live our lives fully serving God. It’s a sacrifice no one can repay, and now through Jesus we can have a choice as to how to live our lives.

I can’t imagine giving up a son like God did in giving up Jesus.  Especially to die for sinners who have done horrible things Jesus has never or ever will commit. He is  a great example as to how we should treat other people even when they don’t deserve it.  Also, how to show love and mercy to those who have wronged us.

The world has made christmas a time to get. To think only about what we want to receive.  That big guy in red with a white beard is NOT the main attraction for the holidays.  The main point has been forgotten.

I’ll admit, it’s nice to decorate and receive gifts, but in truth our focus should be on being more like Jesus, and blessing others.   What better time of year to refocus our lives on others?

  • You could sacrifice your wants this Christmas and focus on giving instead of receiving.  Instead of asking for more at Christmas, you could focus on giving more.  What could you give this Christmas season that would bring joy to someone else?
  • You could reach out and spend time with others who might not have family close by.  One thing we like to do is visit the retirement home and spend time with seniors who don’t have family close by.  This shows them that they are still important and loved by someone.  Who could you visit this Christmas season that may not have someone visiting them?  As an extra gift, why not continue visiting them after the new year.  You may be surprised at the friendship that comes from it.

During this season we celebrate the birth of our saviour and think about the ones we love. So many people are not as blessed to have what we do.  I think it’s the perfect opportunity to think about others who will otherwise be lonely or friendless throughout the holidays. I believe we’re the ones who can bring them joy, with Gods help we can do so much for others.

Can I challenge you this Christmas season to remember why we celebrate this wonderful holiday, and to think of ways you could bless others even by just giving a helping hand.

I hope you have a Very Merry Christmas and make a difference in someone else’s life this year.

Hannah

Favourite Christmas Memory by Lynn Bland

christmas-gregory-bland-5There are so many great memories we share as a family. One of which was created a number of years ago while living in Northern Ontario. A family tradition we enjoy is settling in on Christmas Eve for a movie and munchies together. This year, we had two guests with us to share Christmas with, a great friend who was far from their ‘home’ and Greg’s mother.
After our Christmas Eve family gathering we all settled into bed for the night. The usual expectation of Christmas morning filled both my and my family’s hearts. Excitement runs high this time of year.

Morning finally came and we gathered together.  We read the Nativity story and prayed thanking God for the greatest gift of all, Jesus.  Then we passed out gifts and watched as each one took a turn in opening a present.

This particular year Greg and I had purchased snowboards for the kids as gifts so there was great anticipation about trying them out after our morning brunch. It was sunny, bright, and a warm -10 degrees Celsius. Conditions were perfect. We had received snow very early this season and there was well over 2 feet of it that stayed with us. The kids (Greg included) all got dressed up in their snow gear and headed for the back yard while my friend, Greg’s mom, and I prepared the turkey for the oven and got christmas-gregory-bland-3ready to join the action outdoors.

It was hilarious to watch as each tried their snowboard for the first time. Legs wobbled, arms flailed, but soon steadied themselves and were sailing down the hill through the woods. Not wanting to miss the action,  I went to the bottom of the hill with our video camera in hand and caught the successes and, well, failures. 🙂 Greg’s first attempt made us all laugh as he ended up sprawled out on his back ½ way down the hill.

We played for hours that day enjoying the sun, snow and each other’s company. When we tired of playing on the hill we had a game of tag in a maze that Greg made in our back yard with the snow blower. We ran, laughed, and played until we were all played out.

christmas-gregory-bland-2From there we dragged ourselves into the house and made final preparations for our turkey dinner. I sat at the table, eating, laughing, and reflecting on how wonderful it was to share our Christmas together in this way. This Christmas Day will always be remembered as one of my favourites.