Christmas: Changing Things Up

December arrives bringing with it anticipation and dread…


Anticipation for tree-covered lights,

chilly air,

hot cocoa,


nativity scenes.


It delivers the joy of hustling-bustling shoppers,

random acts of kindness,

and staying up late with my hubby brainstorming gift ideas.

Starbucks TM

It permits the sipping of peppermint mochas,

wearing of sweaters,

and singing of Christmas carols.

December means guilt-free eating of iced sugar cookies for breakfast.



and December paints joy on small faces,

as they descend the stairs Christmas morning….


checking beneath the tree for new parcels,


eyeballing stockings for clues of what they might contain.

December brings delight as children try out new bikes…


and gawk with wonderment over large packages.


December gives happiness when dolls from forgotten catalogs suddenly appear.



December carries dread with it for me, in the gluttony and over spending.

It carries fear that the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, is being lost beneath the excess.

Concern surfaces that our children’s focus is turning from thankfulness for the ultimate gift, to one of material gain.

It  questions how many dolls, Legos, Nerf guns, and Barbies my children really need.

December sends my head spinning…

and images of children from Compassion catalogs leap into my mind.

It causes me to wonder…

if we should be buying goats through World Vision instead?

December sets this expectation…that children get lots of stuff for Christmas.  And maybe it’s not a good one.

Our houses become overfilled with stuff.

We organize the stuff, sort through the stuff, and work harder and longer to pay for the stuff.

My husband and I yearned to do something different this year…but expectations must be managed.

(I’m a professed gradualist.)

You can’t just leap from Legos to goats, without certain mutiny.

Incremental change is key.  And honestly we don’t know where we’re headed with this.

But we chose a small change.

And this year we gave the gift of time and experience…instead of stuff.

We had a puzzle made and wrapped it up for Christmas morning…


The kids had to put the pieces together to figure out the surprise…



Or at least had to complete enough to discover a web address hidden in the picture.


This sent them running for the iPad, to learn exactly what the mystery was all about.



Some of them seemed genuinely excited and others are still skeptical about the prezzie …

A month long adventure in the Tennessee mountains.  Just the nine of us.

Appalachian Mountains, Cherokee National Forest, and Watauga Lake will become our playground.  I can’t wait!!

Now I don’t mean to give the impression that my children didn’t receive any gaily wrapped packages this Christmas, because they did.

They were, after all, staying at Mimi and Pop’s house where nobody goes unspoiled, least of all grandchildren. ;)






  1. [...] guess we were so preoccupied about changing things up, that we made a major rookie mistake- we failed to negotiate a wake-up time for Christmas morning. [...]

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