How to Have an Uncommon Christmas
Every year I say things will be different.
Every year I say we will slow down and take each day as it comes.
Every year I say we will give more than we receive.
The truth is, this December came just as quickly as the last, is passing by even more quickly and I'm spending more time worried about things I haven't yet done rather than purposefully planning what our family could be doing.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
I recently lost my father and just came back from his memorial service this past weekend. A man who would have turned 89 this coming New Year's Eve, he hardly looked - or acted - his age. But more than that, he possessed a spirit, drive and work ethic that's hard to come by these days.
As a first-generation American born during the Great Depression, he not only worked every day of his life starting at the age of eight, but also fought for our country in World War II. The phrases, "I don't feel like it" or "this is too hard" never emerged from his mouth or were even allowed to enter his mind.
To imagine such an upbringing wouldn't affect a child would simply be naive. Honestly, I don't stand a chance of teaching my kids the kind of gratitude and appreciation that came naturally from growing up in that era.
Today as parents, we give kids 'jobs' to do around the house in an effort to make them appreciate all that's been given to them; in my father's youth, he had to work outside the home as a young boy in order to help his family make ends meet.
'Back in the day', you can also bet presents didn't flow freely around the holidays; contrast that with today's youth who often get upset if they don't own the latest and greatest technology the week it comes out.
So what can we do about it? A lot.
In fact, I propose that this year you join me in celebrating an Uncommon Christmas.
Last year, my family purposed to do something different when it came to gift giving; each member of our immediate family would receive four gifts: Something you want, something you need, something you wear, and something you read. While initially the kids balked at 'only' four gifts, it challenged us to be creative and more thoughtful in what we bought and how much we spent.
But is that enough?
With the constant barrage of commercials and consumerism that surround us starting in November, I dare say we have to dig even deeper than that.
That's why I want us to get back to the heart of the holiday, the true reason for the season and the ministry that lies at the heart of having a Merry Christmas.
And I don't just want it to last for 12 or 25 days. No ma'am. I want us to renew our thinking and plan a course that will last us over the next 12 months and beyond.
I've been given the privilege of shepherding you on the new brand new JellyTelly blog every month starting January 2016 with the message of my new book, Raising Uncommon Kids. But the truth is, before we can expect to raise uncommon kids, we have to be uncommon ourselves.
You may be looking for a quick fix for your kids; I'm here to coach you in paying a little less attention to their behavior and spending a little more time evaluating your own.
It's been said that we rarely see an accurate picture of what the mirror reflects back to us, and I think that statement is even more accurate with how we see our kids. While others may see them as wonderful and kind, we may only be aware of what annoys us if we are mainly seeing ourselves in them. Likewise, some of what we think is cute about our own children could drive others nuts.
So where better to look for the traits we need to embrace than the Bible?
Ever since my first time reading Colossians 3:12-17, I've felt drawn to the passage.
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
What particularly strikes me is when verse 14 says "binds them all together in perfect unity" (or harmony, as it states in the NLT). It drives home a message that, while each of the characteristics outlined in these verses are important, they are best when combined.
So with Colossians 3:12-17 as my guide, I've taken twelve parenting dilemmas I have personally faced and framed them into twelve characteristics God calls us to emulate. I didn't always tackle them the way I wish I had, but I have learned from each scenario, and that's what I'd like to share with you in the coming months.
So am I proposing that we kick Christmas presents and all the headaches of the holidays to the curb completely? Not necessarily. What I am suggesting is that there's one truth few have yet to discover: in order to raise kids who stand out from the crowd, parents today need to look in the mirror and realize that the essential components required for raising compassionate kids begins with modeling such behavior. After all, the secret to having an uncommon Christmas isn't about flipping a magic switch every December, but rather how we live a purposefully uncommon life the rest of the year.
So what do you say? Will you join me over the course of 2016 as we examine twelve biblical characteristics parents need to raise selfless kids in this self-centered world of ours? I hope you'll say yes. Even more importantly, I pray you'll begin today by starting to examine why you do what you do and begin to consider the compounding effect it's having on your children. Then, and only then, can we embark on the adventure of having an Uncommon Christmas.
For more ways to celebrate and learn about Christmas, visit one of the pages below!