getting in the mood

No, not that kinda mood…I’m not gonna go all “fifty shades” on you, worry not!

Rather, I am talking about the Christmas mood:

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It is post-Halloween after all, which cues the removal of zombies, fake cobwebs, and toothy-grinned carved pumpkins, to be replaced with the staging of Santa Clauses, artificial evergreens, and perfectly-packaged cellophane gifts sets at every retail store, nation wide.

What a country.

Once again, let me reassure you, this post is not gonna get all “bah humbug” on you either.

I have always loved Christmas.

I even decorated my bedroom, and I mean all out decorated, for Christmas each December growing up.  Complete with a Charlie Brown Christmas tree that I selected and cut down myself from the fields and woods that surrounded our home.  However, these last five Christmas seasons, which ushered in our lives the little advent of daughter number four (born a week before Christmas eve) thus making us a family of six on one income, joyful expectations began to get drained out of me. If joy is a commodity, and I believe it is, my joy was being swindled out me, little by little as the holidays approached,  The embezzler? The very thing that I have long  took a stand against: Materialism.

“How many days till Christmas?”

got replaced with

“How are we gonna afford Christmas?”

I hated that.  But it was the reality.  I admit it, Target Credit Card became our secret Santa for several years in a row.  If Target did not sell it, my kids did not get it.  I tried the homemade Christmas gifts thing.  However, it was a last ditch effort to stave off the guilt of “Oh man, I cannot not put another stupid present on the credit card” instead of something planned to be something meaningful and enjoyable.

Last year God really began to speak to my heart about, not only the obvious “Christmas is not about buying stuff” {we all know that, but spend more time waiting in lines than we do sleeping those last two weeks before Christmas…don’t we?…moi included}.  The problem with materialism is so much more than buying stuff.

It is rooted deep in our own perceptions of what we should do to make us happy, and as is so often the case, what we believe will make others happy,

and the big one: what others will think of us.

It was just a week or so before Christmas day last year when it happened:

I was with my three big girls at the dreaded Five and Below discount store.  It just came to our area and was shiny and bright and filled to the max with cheap stuff.  The aroma of Made In China shipping chemicals and over-heating shoppers wearing bulky winter coats wafted up like obscene frankincense and myrrh.  People crammed everywhere.  You know the scene, I know you do.  The carts over-flowing.  Everyone had carts just loaded up!   I did not want to be there. At all.  I was of course chiding myself for waiting till the last second.  Why can’t I be more organized?  You should of made time midweek you idiot! The garish store was literally closing in on me.

  “If you can not pick out some stupid present, that your cousin probably already has ten of already in the next two minutes we are freakin’ leaving”!

Yep, that is what I hissed to my girls, as cheery as Medusa with a migraine.

We did not leave.  We got in line, and waited and waited.  In line, painfully aware that I am just one of the masses with their made in China chemical offering and over-heating cranking persona, I was simply overcome.  Overcome with the waste.  Overcome with the senselessness of it all.  This is what was whispered in my ear under florescent lights while Mariah Carey sang about “all I want for Christmas” that I cannot forget.

  all these items, made by basically slave labor, a lot children, bought on credit by American families who are toppling over with the pressure and stress of debt already, that will be given as gifts as a genuine act of kindness to make someone happy, but sadly will not achieve that all; all this packaged stuff will be in rotten landfills by February.

I actually started to cry.

“I am so sorry, Lord” is what I whispered.  But there was no going back now.  And honestly, leaving in a huff, full of righteous indignation, and three balling daughters trailing behind of me, would of accomplished absolutely nothing.  Often, when The Lord speaks, He does not want you TO DO anything.  He wants you to simply remember.

I remember.

And so here is another list of gratitudes, inspired by the humble and lovely Ann Voskamp and her book, when I post about what  I choose to see and recall acknowledge as good gifts in my life.  In listing them I will tick off for you how our family is doing the Christmas season this year, that yes, I start to plan right after Halloween. Because I still love Christmas; presents and shopping included.

#1,119 Target’s selection of Christmas wrapping paper.

{I have a teensy bit of Target addiction… possibly.  Browsing their two aisles of wrap is a solemn act I preform in early November, ALONE.  My selection of wrapping paper will then set my decorating tone for the year..i still love decorating at Christmas}

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#1,124  Conversations, deli platters,brie, humus, Riesling wine, and chocolate, with a handful of other woman, all mothers, all happy to be out on a Saturday night, to be part of a social network party hosted by tinyprints.

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{This new company’s photo ideas and options they offer was really a “perfect coincidence” in that this year I am really, really going to do it: making all my Christmas gifts, Mixed media photography being my favorite mode of handmade creativity these days. Besides for the kiddos and Mr.MS of course. However, the girls are only getting three…” if its enough for Jesus its enough for you”?…yeah they are gonna throw a fit!   Our gift to each other is going to be a late candlelight seafood feast dinner on Christmas Night. At home, with wine that cost more than 8 bucks a bottle…something we only do once a year}.

#1,125  Meeting this local professional blogging Mama who hosted this event…plus several more

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#1,126 My sister in law, a bead & jewelry shop owner, who invited me and hosted the part, where I got to make a simple bead ornament

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#1,127  That familiar feeling and rush I get every time, year after year, as the girls and I shop for items to put into our shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Children, right in the middle of the aisle of Target.

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{There is simply no better way to jump start the Holiday season for your children.  It wells up pure gratitude, reverent joy, and a Holy exciting expectation that the fifty bucks or so you spent will become a tangible  open door of joy and hope for a very real child, somewhere, in the next coming weeks, that will introduce him or her to love and beauty of the Christ child.  How could it possibly get any better?}.

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Thanks for reading along in this very, very long post, with lots of links ( i usually shy away from overwhelming my readers with links}.

Happy Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, and Martinmas (threw an obscure one out there for you, cuz I like to act like I am a hipster), on this Multitudes on Monday Link Up.

Cheers.

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6 thoughts on “getting in the mood

  1. I love this post!
    “and the big one: what others will think of us” — always an issue for me…Christmas or not. I should write about this one! It will go down in my idea book.. it’s definitly something that is always, ALWAYS in the back of my mind…it haunts me really. All stemming from my mom probably who always said, “What will the neighbors think??”…oh, Mom…I know she meant well and it’s what she was raised by.
    You have lots of things in your gratitude journal! GOOD for you! It inspires me. My goal is to write three things a day… it’s hard sometimes…as my time to do it is usually first thing in the morning after bible reading and devotion time but the sky this time of year is still dark and rather dreary… sort of unmotivational. I’ve started taking a notebook along with me now though again to write down ideas for writing…so maybe I’ll start writing things I think about that belong in my gratitude book too… It really does help one develop more positive thought than all the negative I can sometimes dwell on.

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    • Yes, that is just when I write in my journal too. Lots and lots of times I will sit and try to think of something good from the day before and can only think of annoyance and stress and how I blew it! But then if I go through the scenes and conversations from yesterday and view them as little snapshots of gifts I can always pull out something. Sometimes they are those very mundane tiresome things that I recall with a grimace. But perspective is a wonderful thing, when you chose to looks at your past life moments through the eyes of heaven. Just like we tell our kids “I make you do hard things because I love you”
      Thanks for all the positive things you leave on both my blogs Orthodoxmom!.

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  2. I’ve been here for an hour I think, ha, catching up Leah. This post made me want to cry too. I love Christmas and all that goes with it (including the angst of wanting everything to be perfect) Have been feeling guilt over our society’s shameless gorging for many years, but still partake in it (to a lesser degree) This year I want it to be more about thoughtfully “doing” things to make others feel special rather than price/quantity of stuff. The shoeboxes are a great idea, wish I wouldn’t take the easier way- money. Loving the homeschooling posts BTW.

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