Friday, January 4, 2013

Little In A Big World

We spent a lot of time watching home videos while we were home for Christmas these pass two weeks.  I grew up in SUCH a simple life.  My parents were the epitome of sacrifice.  My dad drove an old beater for most of my life just so that we could go to Christian school.  My mom made homemade Easter baskets out of brown grocery bags for us.  We got 1-2 Christmas presents each, which we usually shared.  One of the home videos we watched was over Easter.  I was 12.  Inside my Easter basket was a hand puppet.  Thats it.  I was overjoyed to receive it.  Really?  A 12 year old loving a hand puppet?  I can almost guarantee that if I bought that for my 6 year old today, he would complain, or not even want it.

Will and I can look back now and see that we had great intentions, but we WAY overdid it.  They have SO MUCH stuff.  They always get so much stuff.  And its at the point now, where they just don't even care about receiving because its never enough.  I actually nearly fell over because one of them uttered "Thats all we get?  Three presents??? Ugh" as we opened gifts at the grandparents house.  Are you kidding me?  We obviously had a BIG talk about it but I want it to sink in.  I'm not sure I know how to accurately get this lesson across.  I think I have given them the wrong message in their life so far.  I want to reverse this.  I want them to be passionate lovers of Jesus, first and foremost, and then because of that intense love overflow, I want them to be fiercely giving and generous.

We got SO little as kids (compared to now-a-days -oldie alert, who says nowadays???? haha) and we still were so thankful.  We always looked forward to Christmas but we never felt entitled to receive certain gifts or have certain lists fulfilled.  I mean, I definitely remember going over to friends houses who had so much more than us and wishing for what they had.  But it didn't shape my whole world.  I want that for my kids.  I want to drown out the noise.

So Im looking for ideas and input.  How do you teach these things to your children?  What are some ideas for teaching them to be grateful and appreciative in a world that teaches us to always want more?  We live in a big world, where being a minimalist is SO hard, but how do you drown out the noise, and fill them with what is important?  I can't wait for your feedback!!


Lynna Thomas said...

Hello Amber --

The kind of Christmas I grew up with was also much simpler and less materialistic. I remember being happy with a stuffed animal or doll (usually hand-made by my mom) and maybe a new pair of pajamas. And like you I remember always being excited and happy and never feeling short-changed. I look around the living room after Christmas morning with my children and get a feeling of anxiety about so much stuff, so much money spent and wondering as well about the appreciation of it all. I don't have any good answers... I do think it helps to find opportunities to have the kids give to others who are not so fortunate; as they get older I think this gets easier to do. Maybe simple things for now like having them go through their toys and donating to a local charity or organization ... having them help you shop for gifts or food for those in need and going with you to deliver items, etc... and I think that there is a way to "scale back" and have the kids adjust to getting a little less under the tree. Begin to create a new precedent to replace the current expectation. Not saying I have found a way to successfully do this ... but I think about it a lot. I am looking forward to hearing what ideas or suggestions others have on this topic. Thanks!

Jeana said...

I don't even know where to start with this. I have the same thoughts, I already told the kids they are only getting 5 gifts next Christmas. Can I just tell you, the boys were able to take in a gift they got for christmas to school yesterday. Bryson took a remote control animal and C took beyblades, both so excited to show their friends. However C came home and said he didn't wanna show his, I find out b/c he was embarassed! One little girl got a COMPUTER, one an IPOD, another a DSI. These are second graders!!!! Unbelievable! Okay, anyways...I think what you are wanting to do is so much more than just gifts at christmas. It goes back to reaching their hearts.
They will learn by example, so what we do they will do. If we need to have the best of everything they will learn that. It starts with us and our values, and what we model is important to us, is it looks? weight? having nice cars? a nice house? is it giving to others? helping others? going to church? having quiet time? The best place to start is your heart.

And then it's a matter of teaching them values and norms that matter, and when they come home embarssed they didn't get a gift worth a couple hundred bucks, explain to them why that isn't important and what really matters. ugh it is so hard, and we are fighting such a battle against the world. But it can be done and their hearts can still me molded!!

now off topic, i was reading your blog back in 2008, before i knew you...i was enjoying it! Do you remember writing about Sol not bullying? I was laughing!>)