>Merry Monday Thoughts

>I had planned on featuring our Christmas decorations this week, but as they weren’t completely finished before the unfortunate camera spill, I’m making you wait until next week. Sorry my friends!

After spending Black Friday somewhere between Walmart, Kohls, and the MALL (why oh why?!), I’ve decided to do a little discussion on Christmas presents today. 

We really didn’t buy that much, except for some much-needed clothes for Scott and some of those bargain DVD’s, and in wandering around, I found myself beginning to wonder.

I saw so many people completely piled up to their ears like in cartoons, arms full of this year’s latest toy, the latest iPod (excuse me…iPHONE…or is it iPad?? ack.) model on sale, and lines wrapped around stores three times over all for 40% off clothes that were too expensive to begin with. 

Through certain circumstances this year, we’re a little tight on money for Christmas gifts, and I know we’re not alone. So it continues to baffle me why I see all my fellow strugglers loading up with gifts and stretching credit limits when the mortgage payment continues to fall behind.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know that many people do it the right way – they save up money, and spend it at retailers which in turn stimulates the economy. Or I guess that’s what they say. I could probably go on another tangent entirely about how Black Friday deals really aren’t that great except on few token items. 

My point is that it frustrates me to see parents still buying boxes and boxes of the latest toys that will get played with for 15 minutes and then thrown in a closet, all to create the illusion of a lush and wealthy Christmas for their children, when things really aren’t okay.

When I was growing up, both my parents worked at our family business. We sold boats, boat parts, and performed maintenance and service. And as anyone in the boat business knows, winter is a time when the dollar has to be stretched in order to make it back to the summer. So needless to say, we didn’t always have wealthy Christmases. My parents always made sure there were plenty of gifts, and I’m sure sometimes at the expense of bills getting paid, but we were never under the illusion that we were getting all the latest things just because it was Christmas. 

When I look back on Christmases in our family, I don’t remember all the gifts we received, but really just the memories. I remember my parents sprinkling red glitter on the front porch and telling me it was dust from Rudolph’s nose. I remember mornings of leaping on my parents’ bed with my brother, begging for them to get up. I remember services at church, bellowing Handel’s Messiah loudly with my dad while playing relentless games of Scrabble. I remember baking bread and watching Charlie Brown’s Christmas with my mom. I remember the way our house smelled and looked, full of warm food and twinkling lights.

And to me, those were the best Christmas gifts. We learned to make do, to be creative, and to be appreciative of the gifts we did receive and what we had because it was still more than many other hungry families around the world had.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the materialism of the season. Brother needs this and this. Co-worker needs that. Might as well go ahead and buy this because it’s so marked down. Heaven knows I’m guilty of it. 

But I hope that during this period of economic downturn that we remember to spend a little less time shopping and a little more time making memories with our families. Because what are your children going to remember – that you bought them the latest video game? Or that you took time out of your day to do an art project, watch a movie, bake, or play a game with them.

Throughout the month I’ll be posting ideas of homemade Christmas gifts and recipes, but what I hope you really remember on this Merry Monday (or Tuesday, as life may have it), is to enjoy your family and friends. Throw parties. Go caroling. Play games. Enjoy each other’s company. And take time to remember the reason for this season.

Have a merry day!


5 thoughts on “>Merry Monday Thoughts

  1. >Love x2. This year when people ask what Madeline wants for Christmas, I find myself saying, "She doesn't really care." And then thinking to myself, "Unfortunately, we're TEACHING her to care." I'm pro-Santa and pro-gifts, but I'm praying that I find the balance in my parenting – I don't want to teach materialism! As parents, we have an opportunity to bless our kids, but also to teach them from the very beginning that presents aren't the point, or even the best part. It rubs me the wrong way when parents say, "I don't want my kids to go without." Because I do! The desire for "things" is insatiable – there's always something we want. But at some point we have to stop indulging that bottomless pit and say: "Enough." A friend of mine posted this the other day and it applies to the extravagance of Christmas in a beautiful way: "Enough is as good as a fest."

  2. >Sigh. Not being a parent yet, I am absolutely daunted about raising kids someday around Christmas because my parents made it so downright magical, I just hope I can even live up. : )I remember walking up the street to pick out our tree and carrying it home with sappy hands and fresh pine scent in our noses; waking up to perfect Pennsylvania white Christmases; our little musical family singing songs together; my parents' annual Christmas Eve party (HECK of a good time, from what I remember); my Mom and Dad shaking jingle bells outside our windows on the Eve; candlelit services, singing carols with a whole congregation. Gah, I could go on and on. But most of all, I remember sitting and watching the tree at night for hours with my Dad. We'd put on Jazzy Christmas songs and just talk. Talk about everything and nothing. Talk until my little eyes couldn't stay open another moment. It makes Christmas so bittersweet these days, in the 7 years he's been gone (7 years exactly today, actually). But he and my Mom left my brother and me with such exquisite memories – and I am SO very thankful for that.

  3. >Really enjoyed this, Meg! I don't often take the time to read blogs, but your "Merry Monday" title caught my attention. You make an excellent point – every year, around the holidays, we're drawn as a shopper-minded population to the mall, department store, or essentially anywhere sales can be found and begin the valiant attempt at locating the greatest bargain, buying the niftiest gadget, or discovering the ultimate gift to top last year's novel invention. Frivolous, stress-inducing, and hard on the wallet? Most definitely, and yet, believing all that as I do, there's unquestionably something magical about that breathtaking 12-ft-tall Christmas tree on display at the mall, the mouth-watering scent of apple pie wafting through the air from Williams Sonoma, and Bing Crosby's beloved voice carrying an age-old holiday tune above the din of holiday shoppers. The very red of the paper on a Kohl's brochure during the month of December is enough to lift my spirits and impart a ray of festive cheer. It it wrong to enjoy this, we wonder?I was at the mall today and while echoing the very sentiments expressed above, couldn't help but notice and appreciate, from an artistic perspective, the holiday color themes bursting from every store window. Showy pinks and silvers beckoned buyers to The Limited, while Guess mannequins aligned fashionably in a row sported snow white boots, spashes of sapphire, and the timeless little black dress. Gap welcomed winter in cozier tones of beige and hunter green, contrasted against the satiny lavender scarves, slate sweaters, and creamy cashmeres of Banana Republic. …And then you have Macy's, where it's red year round and they still manage to make it look fresh and festive come year-end. Wish I could wear the same color every day and pull that off…Admittedly, these are visual details which hardly stand when compared with the wonder of a newborn's first Christmas, labor-of-love homemade gifts, or the simple priceless memory of baking cookies with Mom or building a snowman with your toddler. They can't compare with the way I felt opening my first Magic Attic doll at age 8, or the wonderful sight of my extended family seated around a bountiful feast on Christmas day, the fireplace crackling softly behind us. They are, however, an indelible piece of my fond Christmas memories (and holidays going forward). The key is that they be kept in their proper place and understood for what they: visual embellishments (evolved over decades of advertising and consumer research)to a highly-commercialized season of celebration in America, the original meaning of which has all but been buried under layer upon layer of garland and wrapping paper. That being said, what must be remembered, and eternally kept separate and sacred is the meaning of that first day long, long ago……when a newborn celebrated His first Christmas in human form, and they made merry over Him with the most priceless offerings in their possession: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And they fell down, worshiping Him.This silent night, the greatest cause for celebration in human history. A Savior born to liberate the captive from his chains. The very presence of a manger, swaddling cloths, and meager conditions screams irony and inadequate welcome – the only welcome a cold, hurting world could offer.In closing then, I want to offer Him a proper welcome to the celebration this year. It's His party afterall. Thank you Meg, for raising this point and calling all of us to remember, amidst the carols and candycanes, that this day began very simply and can still be enjoyed as such. Merry Christmas!

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