The transition from childhood to adulthood can be pretty rocky for some people. It seems like typically the youngest of a family struggles the most with this. Maybe it's because we are spoiled, or maybe it's because we never want to stop playing or lose the magic of childhood, but something about being the youngest holds us back from embracing the fact that, yes, I'm over twenty years old now. In fact, I'm reaching thirty soon. But I guess the number doesn't matter that much because I don't feel that much different (unless I'm jumping on the trampoline or something) and I still want to play and feel the magic of love inside my heart. Too often adults get caught up in being serious and responsible and forget about having fun and being curious and looking for the wonder in life.
So keeping this in mind, Christmas this year is once again giving me a struggle because I have been wrestling with the magic. I miss the days when Christmas was all about the childlike excited anticipation of "what's going to happen?" and the belief in things happening that are not ordinary, but special and magical. Now I get caught up in the idea that I have to make these things happen and I miss out on the magic because I think...I'm not magical. How am I supposed to create the magic for my family? And I lose out on that special Christmas feeling that I used to feel all December long as I gazed at the Christmas lights reflecting off the shining ornaments of the Christmas trees, or when I caught snowflakes on my tongue.
But I am starting to remember what the magic really is all about.
I attended a small Christmas party last night where we drank hot cocoa and gathered around their make-shift fire-lit living room with couches and comfy beanbag chairs by the Christmas tree, and listened to stories. One of the stories was about a little boy living in a backwards town. I found the story here! It tells about how on his birthday everyone did what was unexpected and not what was expected. This little boy spent his entire birthday watching people give each other gifts instead of giving him gifts. His mother gave his birthday cake to the mailman, and his grandparents came to visit a neighbors house instead of his. Finally this little boy gets a megaphone and rides around the neighborhood shouting "Who's birthday is it anyway?"
We need to remember who's birthday it is, anyway.
I was truly touched by this story. When she began reading it, I had no idea how it was going to relate to Christmas, but in the last line it hit me like a dagger to the heart.
I've had all kinds of goals and plans this Christmas. I wanted to teach my kids to be more selfless by trying to make home-made gifts this year for each other. It's been a huge challenge, because since my kids are 6 and under really it's me coming up with these home-made gifts for them to help me make for everybody. It's become overwhelming but I want to see it through. I want Christmas to be more then just receiving.
Then today I had a telephone conversation with my mother-in-law that prompted me to post this blog post. She talked about her desire to convey the message about the true meaning of giving gifts at Christmas. The gift doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't have to be stunningly beautiful in a material way. Giving at Christmas is more then what's wrapped inside the wrapping paper. It's what you feel inside, and it's what you sacrifice for each other. My mother-in-law's definition of Christmas is that Christmas is sacrifice. Because we make sacrifices for each other to remember the greatest sacrifice given to us, that of the Christ. I'm going to add to this and say Christmas is finding the joy in making sacrifices for others, no matter how small they are.
At the Christmas party last night, we were given Christmas Jars, following after the book by Jason Wright, where we can make a tradition to save a little in the jar all year round in order to save money for gifts for each other in our own family, or to give to another family for Christmas. It's a beautiful tradition, and shed some light on the little sacrifices we can make all year to remember the sacrifice given to us by our Savior and our Heavenly Father.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16