Meg, our eldest, shared her thougths this past fall about how she had grown frustrated with how Christmas, particularly the gift aspect of this blessed holiday, was being done in our home. By way of an explanation, the year we had Declan the kids started doing the shopping. I would do the stockings, but they each were given the same amount of money and with those funds, they had to buy something for everybody. They could choose to go together with another sibling or two, or they could do it on their own. Some of the kids added their own funds as well; that was up to them. Everybody did a list so that they each had an idea of what the others wanted.
Meg shared that she had grown weary of the "list" thing because over time the lists had become less of a guide line and more of a shopping list and that it didn't leave room for expression. She believed gifts should be meaningful rather than "items from someone's prioritized, categorized list" and she wanted to separate the idea of shopping from giving. She really explained herself well.
So after some thought, Brad came up with an idea. It was his hope that it would give us a way for Christmas to be more meaningful to us all, while still respecting the notion of giving and receiving gifts.
The proposal related to Brad and I and the older 5. Prior to Christmas, other than stocking stuffers and gifts for the little ones, there would be no shopping; instead, each of us would prepare for Christmas Day by pondering what it is that we could see in each of the others that we really admired or respected, and what we could see that each person had accomplished in the last year. By doing this, we could celebrate each other's character and accomplishments together. We would also speak into one another's future, about what each person's dreams and passions are all about and what we see as the longer term future of each other.
So, on Christmas day, after the little ones were done their unwrapping, we all sat together and did just that. We did have to take a few breaks; there are, after all, 7 of us. There were many laughs and tears; there were moments during that day that I know we will always remember, yet I'd have to think about it if you asked me what I got last year for Christmas. It was shortly after 10 p.m. when we finished the last person; it had been a very full day, indeed, but one that I believe drew us much closer to each other. It was truly inspiring to hear what those closest to me had to say; my children know me very well.
So this will be how we share Christmas Day together in the future.
By the way, we didn't totally abandon the buying of gifts. We did sit together on a second appointed day and thought about what sort of gift, be it sympolic or pragmatic, we could give to each one that would remind them of what was said or assist them in the pursuit of their dreams. The gift suggested for me was a room; a place where I can go to be alone to think and write. The border around the room will read
.....Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal, and will not fail, though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.
.....one of my favourites!