"Ok! I'm so excited! Today we are going to start talking about our Christmas play. Remind me" I say with a quizzical look on my face, "Why do we celebrate Christmas?"
Our sunday school class hasn't always been this big. A few years ago, we needed one teacher, one room and homemade lesson plans sufficed to teach the message. Families started to hear of our church and now these twelve represent the middle group, pre-k through kindergarten. We have babies and bigger children as well. We have half a dozen teachers who rotate through a catalog-bought curriculum. We host kick-you-know-what Vacation Bible Schools in the summer and faces we have never seen before walk through the door. Boy - have we grown.
"Presents!" they shouted, nearly in unison.
Ok, maybe we haven't grown so much.
They are kids. I know that. For them, the thrill of Christmas is that elusive red-clothed bearded man and the loot he manages to tote around the world in one day. But, their instinctive response got me thinking...Even if "Because it is the day that Jesus was born!" isn't the first response out of their sweet little mouths, then why isn't a close second? Literally, a second behind the ego-induced reaction?
It's not. I can tell you that with certainty, because after I had gone through a series of looks: shocked, confused, dismayed, then determined, I said "Yes. We do give presents on Christmas, but who was born that day?"
Sadly, only a handful -(ok three) - answered without hesitation.
Teach by example, right? What they see, they will do - yes?
Each week for the last two years this is how our Sunday School class begins. A song. It is an original so just make up your own tune - but it is the words that are important.
..."Good Morning - Good Morning - I'm grateful for this morning.
Good Morning - Good Morning - I'm grateful for my class.
Good Morning - Good Morning - We're grateful for this morning.
Good Morning - Good Morning - Bear is grateful for _________"...
We go around the circle and each child fills in the blank, stating what they are grateful for that week.
I have been approaching this holiday season from a completely different emotional and mental place than usual. I am really moved by the "reason for the season" as some say. I get all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about spending time with family void of any expectations and without a timeline to meet. I took more pleasure than usual this year getting the tree, selecting decorations and chatting with Bear and The Comedian about each one. They wanted to know all about each of Emma's and I told the stories with gratitude that were ready to hear.
Not surprisingly, I'm unconcerned with receiving gifts. "What would you like this year?" is met with a glazed expression. In the past, I might not have known what I wanted, but I wanted something. Actually, what I wanted was for the person to really observe me, listen to what I wasn't saying, think and search for the perfect surprise gift and present it with a flourish. How greedy. How selfish. How NOT what this season is all about. How very much I sounded like the Sunday School kids. The ironic piece is, I got exactly that. Last year, my husband followed each unspoked direction and I was flabbergasted when the perfect laptop appeared under the tree.
I got mine last year, and so this year - something has shifted. And, yeah - I know, saying you really don't care about getting presents is all noble and stuff, but I'm not done. I don't really want to give any either. And this is the part that really baffles me.
I'm NOT bah-humbuging! If you need a review see section 2 - paragraph 1. I am more connected with the spirit than ever. I am living in the moment, taking every experience for what it is even if it isn't the picture I saw in my head. I am satisfied with my daily life. The conflict here is that, I am a giver by nature. I LOVE to give. It feels good to give, to see people's faces light up when they receive. So, why this year is my givemeter equal to my receivemeter?
I have thought and prayed and meditated and ...I just don't know. The best I can come up with is that once you truly feel that you are blessed just by being where you are and surrounded by people who love you, then the other pieces seem less necessary.
That said - I know I can't - just, not buy things for others. (for the record - the kids gifts are wrapped and ready)
UPDATE: SOMEWHERE BETWEEN BRINGING COOKIES TO MY CO-WORKERS AND DRIVING HOME IN THE TWINKLING SNOW MY GIVEMETER STARTED TO RISE!!