Christmas morning was incredible in the Daniels' living room. Not surprisingly, the kids required no second call to get out of bed. I flipped gingerbread pancakes [from one of my favorite restaurants in Austin, Kerby Lane Cafe] and we gathered around our Duraflame log to read the Christmas story. To keep our conversation lively, I posed several questions from Luke 1-2:
1. How many angelic appearances are listed?
2. How many "songs" are sung?
3. What was the significance of Zechariah's occupation?
4. What was Zechariah made mute?
Then, we proceeded to open our gifts to one another. Tiffany and I both came from backgrounds (me especially) where Christmas was the "grand haul." Kids could expect 10-15 presents on Christmas morning. Parents could make up for any failure of the year at Christmastime. All was forgiven with stacks of presents that took multiple trips to carry to our bedroom. So, for years, we showered our kids with similar extravagance.
Then, not long ago, we made a family decision. We explained that we would purchase 3 gifts: a "large," meaningful, very personal gift; a medium gift; and a small gift. We've made it three years, but it hasn't been easy, I promise you. While, I know that volumes of gifts don't make Christmas any more "christmassy" and I'm sure that my kids don't estimate our love for them by whether they have 3 gifts vs. 12 gifts under the tree, it's still strangely difficult. There's a cultural battle that Tiffany and I fight each Christmas. It's a war against expectations [truly loving parents don't put a price tag on gift giving, do they?] and against comparisons [the kid across the street also got an XBox, but it was gold-plated...and plugged into the rear seat headrest of his new BMW]. More than that, it's really a war against security: Do we really trust that our kids [and other kids] know how much we treasure them apart from any gift we give?
As I wrestle with this, I conclude that greater confidence will come from the way we lead our children and love them throughout the year. And then, whatever gifts we give them along the way won't become substitutes, but symbols of our affection for our kids.
OK...if this doesn't make sense to you, it may be because it is still trying to make sense to me. Post your comment and let's encourage one another.