By Reba Phelps
The Christmas Season of 2017 was definitely one for the books. Or, should I say, one for an article. All of my adult Christmases up until this point were spent agonizing over the retail purchase of the perfect gift. When buying for my daughters it was always my rule to have an equal number of gifts and spend equal amounts of money on each child. This was way more difficult than one could ever imagine. Two daughters, eight years apart, with completely different interests and completely different ideas on what a budget represents was no picnic.
Or, like most children think, Santa Claus has no budget.
All of the man hours logged and stress over material things purchased at Christmas never paid off for me. Once my children returned from Christmas break neither of them could even recall exactly what they got or had misplaced vital parts to whatever the toy of the year happened to be.
The big thrill the perfect gift would achieve just never happened for me.
The Christmas seasons were also spent attending so many parties. So many parties that you could literally not fit all of them in. There were office parties. Neighborhood parties.
Friend parties. Family parties. Sunday School parties (when you are a Church Gypsy there are plenty of these). Business affiliate parties. Kid parties. Christmas Festival parties.
Why do I feel like Forrest Gump describing these parties?
The only reprieve from a party should have been if two dates collided, but then I would still try to make both parties. There is nothing better than two parties on one night.
I can almost feel the exhaustion building as I type.
Last year for Christmas I received the flu bug right in the middle of shopping, party and stress season. It was the gift that kept on giving. The one blessing during this time was that the Elf on the Shelf didn’t fly around and get into too much trouble. He stayed right there with me the whole time I was ill. It lingered long enough to force me to miss the majority of the parties and inadvertently made me miss most of my prime shopping time.
Being behind with shopping duties during this season only means one thing. You must settle for what is left on the shelf. It may fit, it may not. It may be on their list, it may not. Once I was finally able to devote the proper amount of time to shopping for my children it was almost too late. Keeping up with years past I just knew it had to be a large pile of perfectly wrapped boxes. Looking back, this was a blur. A blur of gifts and wrapping paper.
I sadly found myself wishing the Christmas season was over. After all of the needless stress and worry I had not even made time for the true meaning of Christmas. With all of my self-inflicted struggles I had made very little time to reflect on the reason for the season.
To remedy this situation of giving an abundance of unthoughtful gifts and living through the holiday season with as much stress as the human body can allow my oldest daughter suggested a new way of celebrating Christmas.
She would be the first to tell you she hi-jacked this suggestion from Facebook by another local mom. She gives her children four gifts.
Something to wear. Something they need. Something to read and something they want.
Four gifts is still one more gift than Baby Jesus received but we decided on this version as a happy medium. In addition to the pared down gifting we agreed to read the story of the birth of Jesus in the Bible as a family every year.
The baby king entered this world in the most humble ways possible. He was greeted in a lowly stall by shepherds and somehow through the years I had converted the whole season into a frenzy of gifts and parties. Even though my youngest is not overly thrilled at the reduced down version of Christmas my prayer is that one day she will truly enjoy the season for exactly what it is.
A birthday celebration of a life that was so freely given to us when we are so undeserving. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”