Christmas 2.0 - Turn Getting Into Giving
It's 4 a.m. and I'm watching the minutes tick by, just awaiting the arrival of 5 a.m. so I can tiptoe downstairs to see what Santa has left me under the Christmas tree. I thought that maybe if I got there at 4:59 a.m. I could catch him leaving and possibly get a glimpse of ol Saint Nick.
I remember those days like they were yesterday - "Was it under the tree?" Was that one gift we all fiend for under the tree?
-The new bike
-Tickle Me Elmo
-The Furby(weird one)
-Old-school Nintendo ( that were made for kids that couldn't afford game systems but that are now so hard to find they cost $300 on eBay, I digress)
-Or even some weird eggs that hatch out animals -Hatchimals.
Marketing these days has turned Black Friday through Christmas Eve into a social status event of who was able to get their hands on that "one" present. Of course the companies know this and play on the heartstrings of all parents that don't want to have their child look them in the eye and say sorry Santa couldn't bring it.
If you have young kids you know the heartache it can cause. I started to notice as some of my children got older that if that "special" gift was not purchased then it would negate all the other gifts that had been given.
See there's a few things that can turn my mood from Bruce Banner into The Incredible Hulk and spoiled children can get me there in .2 seconds. When Christina and I started out in our marriage we didn't have much. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of prayers to get us to be able to make it as a self-supporting family and not have to rely on others.
A couple years ago I found myself wondering:
Are my kids just spoiled or is it the entire generation?
Now I'm sure we could debate that one for hours but what I did know was that behavior wasn't going to continue.
So I was faced with a couple questions:
1) How do I get my kids to appreciate the presents that they are given?
2) How do I bring back the meaning of Christmas?
3) How do I make sure that they teach their kids the same things?
About two years ago I was watching the news and I heard a story about some people who went into Kmart and paid off a couple layaway's that had children's and infant items on it. They paid cash and just walked away. No acknowledgement for their kindness was even asked for by them . Matter of fact they wanted to remain anonymous. The media labeled them as the "layaway angels." That is when the light bulb clicked on.
Immediately I took Noah (my oldest son) and said hey come with me we're going to run to the ATM and go to the store. He was reluctant to come but the words "I need to run by ATM and grab $100 bill" was the hook, line and sinker. Of course the immediate reaction out of his mouth is oh my gosh $100 bill can I have it.
Laughing I said: "You can hold it now but you have to spend it all the way I tell you."
He agreed and I said: "We're going to go into Kmart and walk back into their layaway department and we're going to ask them to find a layaway with mostly kid stuff on it."
He had a puzzled look and I said: "we are going to pay for someone's layaway." (Of course he immediately asked what layaway was so that took 15 minutes to explain)
But the next part was the best, I explained to him that there's a lot of people out there that can't afford presents for their children. That some kids do not even get presents on Christmas and some don't even have a home to celebrate in. Naturally he was dumbfounded and just kind of sat silent for a second and said to me "that's sad".
I said to Noah, "It is sad and the reason why we're doing this is because we're in a fortunate position to give to somebody that might not be able to celebrate like we do. That's why we're here. Our main goal should always be to help others and love on people just like Jesus did."
So we walked up to that counter in the back of Kmart and I handed Noah the hundred dollar bill and he stepped up to the counter (barely able to see over it) and asked the employee, if there were any kids that needed presents.
My heart pretty much melted. So I explain to the employee that we wanted to find the layaway that had a bunch of kids stuff on it, and pay it off. The look on that clerk's face was priceless. He looked at us like he was in shock, and said "are you serious?"
When he realized we were very serious, he quickly opened the book and helped find us a layaway that had $98 worth of toys and infant supplies.
*Side Note-it was five days before Christmas, and up until that point I had just kind of been going through the motions of the holiday.
At that moment I felt alive, pure adrenaline was pumping through my body and my heart was pounding a million miles an hour. It was a feeling that I'll never forget. The gentleman asked us if we wanted to leave our info and I said no because it's not about the glorification of us. It's about God putting us in the position to be able to give. That is who deserves the praise.
At that moment I realized all the questions I was seeking to solve were answered by doing one action.
My son realized that he was thankful for the presents that he had because some kids were not getting presents at all. I also realized that Christmas isn't just about getting presents but it's about helping others and giving. And I'm pretty sure he'll always remember that moment in his life and continue it when he gets older.
This is the part of the Season that makes me feel alive. That tingling in the back of your neck and when you know the holy spirit is with you. It's a feeling that is better than any gift I've ever received and one that I will continue to strive to feel.
Last year (2015) we did it again but this time we brought my middle son Jonah with us and they each gave $100 bill. They each picked out a list to give too and now it's become a tradition.
This year (2016) Christina and I set a goal of giving the same amount of money to people in need that we are planning to buy in presents for loved ones. It is amazing to say that we have accomplished this goal and directly have given back to multiple families in need this season. The amazing thing about it was God placed all of these families in our path and we knew it was his work when it happened.
So to make a long story short I realize two things:
1) it's not about recognition of glorification of me, it's simply just asking and praying to be put in the position to be able to give and giving that recognition to God
2) Taking it upon myself to lead by example and hopefully the same examples will be instilled in others lives around me.
So I hope all of you have amazing holiday and a Merry Christmas and reach out and tell somebody you love them and try to do something special for a stranger.