"I hate Christmas", he admitted sarcastically. "People call me the Grinch because I do hate it. I can't wait 'til it's over!" This is coming from my brother-in-law with seven children. Chuckling as he said it, so I know he doesn't really hate Christmas. He just hates all the spending that goes with it.
Seated in the back I overheard my sweet sister-in-law, Neits gentling, "This is a time of giving. I just want to make sure we have something to give to everyone." Neits is one of many people I know that has the biggest heart beating in her chest. Very giving, kind and loving, yet righteously firm. My children adores her and I trust her with them, God forbid, should anything happens to me.
I love Christmas. As a little girl growing up in the island of Tonga, Christmas was focused on celebrating, glorifying and honoring the birth of Jesus Christ. The gifts we bore to one another was food and door to door caroling. There were no toys, clothes, money or anything such things. Only the best food on the island. I was a runner every Christmas. Delivering food to every door of all our beloved neighbors and receiving food brought by them.
Christmas tree was a gigantic mango branch. Cut down and decorated with big white balloons. It was speared deep into the ground of our grassy front yard. I watched through our window with the enthrallment and fascination of a child, as the wind rustled the leaves and balloons back and forth. So beautiful and glorious. I just stared and stared at it.
I only saw Santa Claus once. In shock I gaped with my eyes and mouth wide open. Oh, I've heard about Santa Claus alright, but I didn't know he comes to Tonga. He was pinning bags of candies to people's doors. To this day, not once did I spurt a word of it to anyone. Come to think of it, I think it was one of the white teachers that teaches in the High School across the street. In a full red suit and white beard. He actually winked at me.
As for singing, as soon as the sun goes down, lamps were lit and glitter in the night, while the moon and stars light our paths as we travel from house to house caroling. The thrills of the Christmas spirit rooted deep within my heart as I developed a childlike love for the babe and Savior Jesus Christ. So I sang my lungs out, until my voice cracked and then sauntered home as I could barely hold my eyelids open. The sounds of voices, banjos, guitars and harmonica fades away as I drifted off to sleep. Exhausted and overwhelmed by all the joy and love I feel during every Christmas season. I still remember everything as if it was just yesterday.
As an adult and a mother, I somehow began to loose focus on what Christmas is all about. Beginning with my two oldest sons and daughter. I wanted to give them the world. Buy the most expensive toys and not just one but many. Piling up the Christmas tree with gifts that we really could not afford, as I gradually began to forget about the true meaning of Christmas. It took several Christmases and a lack of money, to realize this. Also, watching my children loose focus too as they centered themselves in receiving and getting, instead of giving and sharing.
So I took a step back deciding that enough is enough. My children needed to learn that Christmas is not all about receiving and getting. It's not all about them. It's about a baby, born to this earth, bearing a much grander gift then material things. A Redeemer and a Savior of mankind. He is the GIFT. God's gift to mankind. That through a life live for others, serving others and giving to others, only then can we truly feel the true meaning and joy of Christmas.
No more frantic searching for expensive toys that can break the day after, littering our living room floor. Short lived and void of meaning. No more endless hours shopping for things they don't need. One thing is enough. A pair of boots for the winter snows. A pair of jeans to replace the torn ones. A warm jacket to last through two to three winters and perhaps some socks and gloves to go with it. It wasn't easy but we adjusted and the children got use to it. They may not all get what they want, but they will get what they need.
May the joy and warmth of the Christmas spirit be felt not only in our hearts but in our homes. And may it last all year long until the next Christmas as we celebrate again and again.