Sunday, January 15, 2012
Radical Christmas Results
Now, officially out of the Christmas Season, I am still in a sort of daze at the success of our radical Christmas. I knew that all my efforts to create a new kind of Christmas experience would one day be recognized by my children. But I was certainly not prepared for what happened. We did quite a few things we have never done before, like working a soup kitchen on Christmas Day, but the real Radical was what happened on Christmas eve and on Christmas morning before the sun came up.
Reason for the change: My kids were fighting over what they could put on their Christmas Wish Lists. No actual toys needed for greediness here. We can fight over the idea of junk.
Radical Change: They were informed on the First Sunday of Advent that I was writing to Santa and he would only be filling their stockings. I was asking him to take their toys to a needy child instead. From us they would be getting one thing and it would be special, but not a toy.
Implementation Part One: On Christmas eve they were given their gift from me. Each child received a letter with a list of ten things I love about them. Taped to the letter was a small brass key. The key opened a hand carved wooden box from Poland. Inside the box was a set of dog tags for the boys with their initials and a cross, for the girls, a Love God bracelet. They each also received five silver coins representing five Polish Saints.
Result: It looked as if it was going to get ugly when son number two, getting impatient to open something, began to say things like "It isn't even like Christmas. We might as well not even get anything." My intention was to wait until his cousins had gone to do the gifts, but I gave him his letter and told him to take the box in another room to open it. He returned to the room after having gone down stairs to do something. He gave me a hug and said, "I gave my cousin my phiten (his prize possession)." "Why?" I asked. "Because Mom," he began fingering the dog tags," I will be wearing these, like, for my whole life." A few weeks later, after being rather a pain, I received a letter from him on my computer with a list of things he loves about me.
Her aunt read my daughter her letter. As it was read, I saw her nod her head with a satisfied smile on her face. My oldest just gave me a hug, folded his letter and placed it in his box of treasures. He put his key on his dog tags and placed them around his neck.
Then one by one, with boxes under arm and without being asked, they silently slipped up to bed.
Implementation Part 2: Their stockings on Christmas morning contained mostly candy. I did include an old fashion tin of marbles in each and a figurine: Alexander the Great, Sherlock Holmes, and Blackbeard the Pirate to name three, nothing modern or exciting. I stayed in bed not really wanting to witness the morning. From my bed, to my great shock and surprise, I heard the normal Christmas sounds: "Awesome, look at this!" "His pipe comes out." "Look at this armor, is this the coolest thing you have ever seen." "Anyone want to play me in marbles?"
What I think they learned and what I know I did:
*When think we are owed nothing, everything begets gratitude.
*Though we think we want all sorts of things, what we really want, and in fact what we need, is to know we are loved.
And isn't that what Christmas is about. We were owed nothing, but God so loved the world He sent His Only Son. And shouldn't we all get to feel just once how:
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
I lied when I said they went silently to bed. What I did hear floats on the wind still...
"This was the best gift I have ever gotten."
Was it the Box? Its contents? The letter? Or did I somehow manage despite all my failings and insecurities to remove the distractions and manage to let the soul feel its worth?