I haven’t even finished this year’s list-making for the boys’ gifts (or the rest of the family, for that matter – and I know, I’m running out of time…), but I’m already thinking about next year. The gifts I’m thinking of, though, are not traditional Christmas gifts.
First, I’m going to be preparing the boys all year long to be more responsible and self-sufficient. I got the idea from a book I bought at Mardel several weeks ago – Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma. I’m just now getting around to reading it, and I’m thinking about reading a chapter each month, then having the boys follow through with their new training during the following month. So this month, after reading “Introduction: The Epiphany”, I’ll read chapter one (or Task One, as the author titles it) – “Operation Clutter Control: Starting Simple: Beds and Clutter”. Then for the month of January, they’ll work toward mastering making their beds daily and keeping up with the clutter in their bedroom. It’s a daily battle right now…
Subsequent “tasks” and areas of improvement are kitchen duties (including meal planning, list-making, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up; yard work; money-making jobs (something Jacob is always looking to do…); scrubbing their bathroom (YAY!); doing their own laundry; basic home maintenance and repair; hospitality and party planning; group effort; running errands; service to others; and manners. As much as I’d like them to get it down quickly and move on to the next task, it makes so much more sense to devote each month to learning a new skill and forming a new habit.
By Christmas 2013, they’ll be able to give me the gift of their help in more everyday ways – and I can rest assured that they know what they’re doing. They’ll also be more mentally prepared for my other plans for Christmas gifts…
The boys have so much stuff – and it seems they’re always getting more. Then Christmas comes around and they get swamped with more stuff from grandparents and aunts. Every year it’s harder and harder to find things to add to their Christmas wish lists, then separate all that stuff out into three separate lists for everyone – without duplicating items. I’ve recently heard of families who have toned down their kids’ Christmas gift experience by having them fill out a specific list: one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, and one thing to read. I like that! I’m thinking they could fill out one list for us, one for each set of grandparents, and one for my sisters. That would still give them plenty of things to unwrap without overwhelming them (and us!) with stuff, stuff, and more stuff.
There’s something else I read that I’d like to incorporate into next year’s gift giving. A young teenage boy was discussing Christmas with his mother. He said that Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’ birth, but we give gifts to each other instead of to Him. That family decided that they would look through catalogs for Compassion International and other outreach groups and choose things to purchase to improve the lives of those less fortunate as their way to give gifts to Jesus for His birthday. You know the verse. Matthew 25:40 – “…I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.” (NET) I feel like we need to take the focus off ourselves and what we want and put it instead on others and what they need. (My dad already does this – and has for a few years. He asks that we use the money we would spend on his Christmas presents and instead use them to help someone who is needy. For his gift, he’d like pictures and a card or letter explaining what was done. We haven’t done that before because I just found out about it last year, but I’m planning to do that this year. He’ll still get a more personal gift from us, too, though. )
Maybe those changes will make next year’s Christmas season less rushed, less stressful, and more enjoyable.