As we begin to prepare for the busy buzz of the holidays, I realize how easy it is for finances to rule the roost.
In fact, it's pretty dang easy (without wanting to!) to submit to the control that money has over all different aspects of the holidays: gifts, food, decorations, etc. Spending goes up. Income doesn't. That's a recipe for one frustrated wife, my dears.
And I'm as guilty as anyone.
I walk past the pretty Christmas linens on display in the store. I see the fancy lights and garlands, the pretty gifts beautifully packaged, the succulent pomegranates calling me, and the perky holiday dresses. I sinfully covet, wishing I all those fine things in my home, wishing I had unlimited funds for purchasing presents, wishing I had those earrings. Those shoes. Those wine glasses.
Shame on me.
Money does not bring satisfaction with it. Possessions never bring security to those who trust them for it. Riches bring no eternal peace. Wealth carries no guarantees.
Sure, these fleeting desires may bring me momentary pleasure, but eternal peace? Not even close. Instead, I must turn my attention to the one place where eternal peace can be found – trust and faith in my Lord, Jesus Christ. This takes continual effort on my part, to refocus my attention where it needs to be during this Advent season. Why am I so weak to my earthly desires? Why do I continually turn my face to my neighbor…coveting what ‘they' have…instead of rejoicing in the grace that God has shown me?
Contrary to the beliefs of the pagan world we live in, the holiday season is not about presents. Or food. Or decorations. Or holiday dresses. It is about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior. And that is cause for celebration, indeed!
So how do we avoid falling into the spending-pit that is the holidays?
Stuart and I have talked about our strategy, as we continually tread through another financially tight year (hey, it's not like they're making college cheap!). Gifts will be kept to a minimum. And I'm stealing a friend's idea of only buying gifts for the kids that fit into their stockings, with a limit of $25, and gifts that can be utilized for teaching (ie: books, coloring pads, etc.). We have been very blessed with many-a-donated-toy and to add more to the current stash just isn't necessary.
On top of frugal buying, decorations will most-likely be homemade (paper chains, anyone?!) and our wine glasses will continue to be mis-matched. My holiday dress will be an old one, fancied up with a pretty scarf. And it will be wonderful, as it should be.
Partial change of holiday subject:
I've also stolen an idea from my little sister and we've decided to perform ‘Random Acts of Kindness' for those in our area. I love the idea of seeking ways to bless those around us.
A few ideas I've run across:
1. Cleaning a family members house
2. Gifting a latte to someone who needs a pick me up
3. Treats in the mailbox for the postman
4. Offering to babysit kiddos while sending the parents out for a evening coffee date
5. Donating excess toys/clothes to Good Will
6. Writing sincere thank you notes to those who have blessed you in some way
7. Delivering a full, cooked meal to a family
8. Gifting a favorite book, and a note, to a friend who would enjoy it
9. Using inexpensive flowers, make little handheld nosegay bouquets and give them away!
10. Writing a note of encouragement to your Pastor and/or Elders
11. Leaving change at a vending machine for the next user
12. Taking goodies to your librarian/local fire station/local police station with a thank you note telling them how much you appreciate their service (hey, I love the public library, man!)
13. Leaving a card and a piece of candy on the windshields of cars in a parking lot
14. Hiding $1 bills in the toy section of the dollar store!
15. Leaving an extra large tip to a server
16. Assisting an elderly person with their shopping/cleaning
17. Offering to run errands for a busy friend
18. Mailing a small, sweet gift to a relative you haven't seen in awhile
19. Smile, smile, smile, smile, compliment, compliment, compliment, compliment
20. Offering to let someone in front of you in the checkout line
What if we served others, for God's glory, instead of waiting to be served this season? What if we sought to bless others with careful consideration and thought, instead of blindly buying gifts (or decorations…or wine glasses…or clothes) just because that's what we're ‘supposed' to do?
I seek to make this holiday season a time to foster a giving and charitable heart. I seek to reflect, serve, and praise the ‘reason for the season', baby. The birth of our Savior.
How are YOU keepin' things real this holiday season?