I love the sacred and the secular at Christmas.
I'm not one who doesn't buy gifts for my family and gives something overseas instead (although I think that's great).
Perhaps it's because my best memories of Christmas are around giving. My parents divvied up my dad's small bonus from the church each year, and all of us got exactly the same amount to spend on everyone in the family. We could pool our money or go it alone.
Often, we were shopping at the last minute, since those gifts usually came the Sunday before Christmas. It was a mad dash at the mall, hiding presents from each other and figuring out when and where we would meet. This was long before the days of cell phones, and us kids wouldn't have had them anyway unless we paid for them ourselves.
There weren't usually piles and piles of presents under the tree. That's been in more recent years. And it's made it harder to focus on the Jesus part of Christmas.
I love giving presents. The thrill of finding that thing you know that person is going to cherish, or the anticipation of a gift that might not work but will be a home run if you've called it right.
Our Christmases were small, and my kids' are not. They have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who all buy for them. That wasn't the case when I was growing up.
I worry that my kids are too into what's under the tree for them.
As I was looking through this week's scriptures, there were many good ones, mainly about who Jesus is and what he does.
But this one made me realize that what I most want for my kids is a gift only God can give them.
There, right in the lovely opening of the book of Jude, is a blessing. "Kindness for those who need it" is my paraphrase of "mercy," by the way. Feel free to insert your own if you'd rather.
Feel free to share this printable with your little ones and talk about what matters most.
Just a warning, though. Your kids might not know the things you think they know.
I was already done with this picture when my 4-year-old surprised me.
I sing him a song every night, and last night it was Michael Card's "Barocha." The lyrics are "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and give you peace. And give you peace. And give you peace forever."
Nice enough, right?
Well, my boy stops me and says, "I don't want you to sing that song."
Me: "Why not?"
Him: "Because I don't like it and you sing it over and over." (Not actually true, but ...)
Me: "Why don't you like it?"
Him: "Because it says 'give you peace.'" Hmmm.
Me: "Baby, do you know what peace means?"
Him: "It means you're all alone forever."
And right there my heart broke. I explained what peace meant the best I could — it's when you feel loved and safe and there's no fighting. And I apologized for him thinking I would ever wish that he felt all alone.
He's heard the phrase "peace and quiet," and somehow he equated that with being alone.
It was a good reminder to listen to my kiddos, especially when they say they don't like something. The reason may not be what I think.
It's a lovely song, by the way. You can play part of it here.
That's it for now.