Generally when we think about the perfect Christmases, our minds drift back to our childhood, tons of presents, smiles all around, the perfect turkey and lots of family and friends. Or perhaps, as married women, we remember the “rock” (or pebble) that our future husbands presented while we sat in front of the tree sipping hot chocolate. At least these are the messages that television and its commercialization of Christmas send our way each year.
Personally, the perfect Christmas for me occurred not too long ago. It was our first year homeschooling, and we were making the adjustment from being a typical two-income, suburban family (with typical two-income suburban lifestyle and associated debt), to a primarily 1-income family who hadn’t been quite aggressive enough in getting out of debt before the change in household income. My husband and I had little money to buy presents and had decided that, with what we had, we would buy for the children and for extended family. There were only four of us then, and our oldest, (I think) sensing the lack, only asked for three gifts. Because she only asked for three things, we wanted to honor her humility and buy what she asked for. So, when Christmas Day did come, I can safely say that our tree looked nothing like the trees on TV. Yet, the children opened their gifts with such joy and excitement that it was hard not to shed tears while watching them enjoy themselves. My husband and I gave up trying and wept openly when, after quickly unwrapping the sparse number of packages under our tree, our son insisted that we stop and thank God for the gifts. I have never been more blessed than to know that our kids really got what Christmas was all about. It was almost as if God himself was telling us that we had done our best, and that it was more than enough. It was, in my mind at least, the perfect Christmas.
We’ve been blessed such that on each Christmas after that, we’ve been financially comfortable enough to buy the kids more, and we can treat ourselves to a gift or two as well. The list that once contained only three items is now 1+ pages long (although we’ve stayed with the tradition of guaranteeing only the top three items as defined by the children). I praise God for this season of plenty in our lives. But my heart yearns for the time when it was simple, and they got it. No victims of commercialization. Few dollars, but big hearts and hands open to thank and praise Him. May we never go back to that level of indebtedness and lack, but may we also never forget our perfect Christmas.