Thoughts on Christmas. Of course. And dreaming. And poetry.
I am really excited about Christmas, especially the presents, which is a switch for me. I’m a terrible gift-giver. I just never can think of what would be “just right” or the only thing I can think of is a bizillion dollars, or it would have taken a month to make and I’m out of time, or whatever. It’s a lack of intuition plus inadequate planning, I guess. Add to that the constraints of staying ON BUDGET, and it about wipes me out. However, this year, we set aside some money well in advance. And I’m excited about what I have planned for my family. Although, also in the back of my mind linger the unpleasant memories of gifts that I thought were going to be AWESOME and they turned out to be a total bust. It’s so much easier to remember the failures than the successes for me. Something wrong about that…. Anyway.
I had my children make Christmas lists, which I don’t often do, as I think it’s a bit tacky and self-serving and can get their hopes up for that ridiculously over-priced Really Cool Present that they will never receive, like the CELL PHONE on my 12 year old’s list. I know there are younger children with cell phones, but I looked at him and asked, “Really??” with the Mom Look: One eyebrow arched, head tilted to the side, lips pursed, a heavy sigh written all over my face.
However, I need to let my children dream… I’ve been convicted about that lately. I caution them and prepare their hearts so well about our family’s values — which have a lot to do with Jesus and very little to do with materialism — that I caution them right out of dreaming. I’ve specially noticed that about my oldest son, who is 14. He is afraid to even have dreams, lest he be disappointed; he doesn’t want to fix his heart on the impossible. That’s startling, partly because that’s just like ME, and I have to fight just to allow myself to have dreams… and frankly, it’s not a super-healthy place to be. I read “Hold Fast Your Dreams” by Louise Driscoll to him yesterday and suggested that it was a good poem for him (though “The Metal Checks“, also by Driscoll, is much more striking, as poems go, it wasn’t appropriate for the lesson at hand…). And, I let the cell phone stay on Grant’s list.
For my younger two boys, Wes (age 10) and the aforementioned Grant, I’m having them memorize Luke 6:27-38, in light of the commercialization of the American Way to Have Christmas, and due to the fact that there has been way too much of, “Hey, that’s mine! Give it back!” which makes me want to poke out my eye with a fork. I slowly went over each verse with them, explaining that in God’s economy, if you give up something willingly, you always gain back in greater quantity and quality than what you yielded. I used as an example: In April 1994, I semi-unwillingly gave my $50 guitar — which was just this side of firewood — to my roommate who had, in my absence, started taking lessons with it. It was hard, but I was intentional about being generous. I got married in November of that same year, and my dear husband greatly surprised me with a Taylor guitar (815C model — jumbo with a Florentine cutaway) for our first Christmas! I hadn’t even dared to hope — to dream — about my own super-fabulous guitar. It was enough to play my husband’s. 😀 Come to think of it, that was the first of many instances where my husband goes above and beyond where I dare to dream, when it comes to buying me presents.
Anyway. I also explained to my boys that Jesus was blowing the minds of his hearers. The Jews already had an unusual law forbidding lenders to charge interest. Jesus was taking it one step further telling His followers that they were to give anything to anyone who asked, and not even expect repayment of the principle, let alone interest! This is challenging, to be certain. Very challenging. But, it’s required. Even for kids. No more, “Hey, that’s mine! Give it back!”
And, it must be mentioned, that the former roommate is now a professional musician.
“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”