This past Sunday morning, as I sat in the worship service, it occurred to me that we don’t have a Christmas present for our youngest daughter. Granted, it was only December 8th so that wasn’t really a problem- except that, I realized, I had no intention of buying her one.
The practical voice in my head says she doesn’t really need one. At six months old, I know that she will be very happy to play with ribbons and bows. She’ll pick up on the excitement of the day and sense that something is special. She already has things to play with and things to wear, and she happily fills her days exploring (thanks to her newly-discovered skill of rolling) and giggling with her sister.
Perhaps it was the sermon which triggered the thought. Our church is taking part in the ‘Advent Conspiracy’ this year, challenging each of us to spend as little as possible on the season in order to give as much as we can. It’s a really inspiring project which many are taking very seriously. So while we are making daily trips to Target for toilet brushes, or salt shakers, or the hundred-and-one little things we didn’t realize we needed until we’re standing in the middle of the kitchen trying to cook a meal, or attempting to clean the bathroom with soap but no brush— it’s been helpful to remind ourselves that it’s ok to spend as little as possible, and to make do with what we have where we possibly can. It feels noble. It feels good.
Except that… it didn’t feel noble, or good, when I dragged the family around three different superstores on the day after Thanksgiving. My practical side took over, pushing me to try and fill our house for a little as possibly by finding the perfect Black Friday bargain. I convinced myself the more we saved, the better it would be for our girls. It was a really bad idea. After two weeks of scouring the city for the best deals on furniture, housewares, and kids clothing, I had let myself get carried away with not spending. Which, I realized, might possibly be just as dangerous as spending- and equally as addicting. When my oldest daughter woke up the next morning and with a big sigh said, ‘Where are we going today, mummy?’, I realized enough is enough.
Since then we’ve been staying home (special thanks to the season’s first snowstorm [link] for the help there), and we’re making memories in our new place with whatever we have in the house. It’s been really great. But on Sunday morning the voices went to war. Practically, our baby daughter doesn’t need a present. Then again, these first six months of her life have been constant change. We’ve taken very few few photos of her, and we’ve been pretty lax about recording her first moments- and not because she’s a typical second child. Surely we should take this opportunity, in this season of peace and quiet and family time, to mark this special occasion with her.
So I’m on a new mission this week: a meaningful gift for the girl who giggles and smiles and goes with the flow. I’m not going to spend much, and I’m not going to obsess about it. But one of the biggest things I’ve learned in this last six months is that things we can let go of- people I want to hold on to. And that’s going to take a little effort, and a little creativity.
My mission is clear. What’s yours this Christmas?