Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thoughts on the holidays

I watched this on my friend Small Town Girl's blog and loved it.

Money is tight in our home this holiday season. Really, really tight. The adoption and subsequent DNA testing (despite the fact that it still has not yet happened) has really drained us. Coupled with the reality that we still need to pay for the boys' Visa's (over $700) and airfare, we are feeling an evertightening visegrip on our budgets. I spend a lot of time trying to alleve my anxiety with the mantra, this too shall pass.

A few Saturdays ago, Pastor Sandy preached at our church (Pastor Dennis is the usual preacher, and Pastor Sandy treats us to her teachings several times a year). She stood up to begin her sermon, but felt something tugging at her heart a message to parents about the upcoming holidays, which I will try my best to eloquently paraphrase.

In our day and age, she sees a lot of very spoiled children. Children who do not know the meaning of the word "wait" or "no" or "budget." Children with no work ethic and who have no understanding of what is waiting for them in the real world.

We parents are doing them a disservice. We are not preparing them for the real world. We ourselves live in a society with credit cards and instant gratification expectations. We feel as if we are denied a right if we cannot get something when we want it.

This year she is praying that we all just stand up and say no. No to the excess. No to the neverending cycles of overspending. All she wants for her own holidays is sharing warm, homecooked meals and spending time with family and friends.

As encouragement, she shared that when she and Pastor Dennis were a young married couple and young parents with young children, they had nothing. Nothing. Countless others were in the same boat. No credit cards to fall back upon. No home equity loans to bail you out. They drove clunkers. They had what was in their checking and savings accounts, and very often it wasn't much. If there wasn't money for something, then that was that.

And they all survived. Their kids survived. They made it through those years and came out of it just fine.

Anyways, I know that her sharing a message was a bit of a risk because it certainly isn't a popular one. And I know that not everyone agrees with it, but that's okay. For me, I nearly had whiplash from nodding my head in fervant agreement, feeling so damned relieved that someone else not only shared my line of thinking but was telling me that we'd be okay for it.

As for our family, we will take things one day at a time, and in then end, we will be fine. I cling to the hope and encouragement in that message. And oh how my perspective changes when I think of those in this world who lack even something so basic as clean water.

We have provisions for today, and we lack for no need. We are blessed beyond measure.


A Blessed Life said...

Thanks Sarah for sharing this. Scott and I have recently started Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace. We have been fighting debt for so many years because we haven't truly "lived" within our means. We have regrets even though we have always been debt concious and we are not as deeply in debt as many people we know. We are so blessed and we want to get to the point that we have lots of money to give to those who are really in need.
Great post!

Anonymous said...

Nice post, good video, brave person to share your thoughts. I admit that there is guild about not being able to afford to buy a lot of stuff for you and the kids this year, but I am extra proud that, even if we had the money, your heart and mind would be in the right place as far as what to do in the spirit of the holidays.

Your amazed husband,

bbbunch said...

Thank you Sarah. I had goosebumps watching that video. I know this is something that you and I have talked about at great length, and I couldn't agree with you more. The funny thing is, for years we maxed out credit cards trying desperately to give our kids the "perfect" Christmas/Birthday, etc. etc., when half the time we would end up so upset because they only wanted to play with the box, or they didn't remember who gave them the gift, or they got so much they started to forget their manners. I would look at the wreckage after Christmas and feel sick to my the mess of it all, the disgusting heap of "things" scattered about, pieces that were quickly broken and lost - not being taken care of because "oh well, there's always something else to play with." So a funny thing happened. This year, we are committed to living an authentic life. We decided on a magic number...a "cutback" in both price and number of wrapped gifts each child will receive. We also did this with my family - put the kids right in the drawing with everyone else - 1 meaningful gift received and given at our extended family gathering. The relief we have felt, and the joy we have felt is amazing...and guess what? We told the kids, and they were EXCITED! Turns out - that was a LOT of pressure for them too! We thought we were doing them a service all those years, but we were wrong! The best part was each of us putting together a shoebox full of gifts that we dropped off at church to be sent to needy children around the world. It truly touched my heart to see the joy my children had in packing these boxes and drawing pictures to place inside. The other night we watched the American Girl movie "Kit Kitterage" which (taking place during the Depression) gave a wonderful opportunity to talk to the kids about needs and wants. Thanks for the reminder!

Sawatzky Kids said...

Sarah! Sometimes God is so amazing there are no words! Our church's theme for this Christmas season is Christmas Un-limited. We have seen this video three times now in church as we go through this series. I am planning to blog about it on my site tomorrow! We also just finished a weekend on refugees and what we can do this holiday to really give as Christ did. We are "shopping" at chrch next Sunday, for things like clean water, misquito nets. etc.... amazing that Pastor Sandy shared this same message with you there!
What a great God we serve!

Sawatzky Kids said...

Side your holiday blog background!

Anonymous said...

That video really makes you think!

deb pagel said...

Thank you for sharing this video. It's always important to be reminded of what Jesus truly wants to us to treasure. This video truly spoke volumes to me. Thank you.