It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. We had just gotten home from the mall and I rushed to Lillian’s room to put her down to sleep. She had fallen asleep in the car and I was hoping she wouldn’t wake up, so I rushed the kids out of the car and ran to her room! When out of the blue Jack asked:
Mommy, do you think Christmas is a time when we should be greedy?
I didn’t even look at his face but I could tell by the tone of his voice that it was a sincere question. I could picture the wheels turning in his head trying to figure out what was right and what was wrong.
Oh how this question convicted me. See I had just spent the last week scourging for Black Friday deals coming up on Thanksgiving day. I had made a mental and physical list of all the things I wanted for myself and the kids. I knew I was greedy and it happened every single year around Thanksgiving time.
For those last two weeks I had repeatedly asked Jack what he wanted for Christmas. Grandparents and aunts and uncles wanted to know. I wanted to know! His answer was too simple: Legos. Nothing else. Not even a second or third item on his list! There was not even a specific Lego he wanted, he was pretty much happy with anything. And apparently this had not been good enough of an answer, so I continually asked him to think about it some more and get back to me. I needed more details and more ideas! Come on kid this is your golden opportunity to ask for anything you want… and all you can think of is a lego?
I didn’t answer his question right away but I circled back with him later that afternoon. I knew I couldn’t just give him the ‘politically correct’ answer because this savvy seven year old would see right through me. I knew I had been greedy myself and had bombarded him with questions about what he wanted. I may have said with words that we should be generous, but my actions were not saying the same thing.
That afternoon I told him that Christmas was a time to think about others. To think about the gift that Jesus is and that Christmas is a time to love on others less fortunate than us. I also told him it was easy to become greedy and that I myself struggled with it every year. I shared how the TV ads on toys made it tempting for us to want more and more things. And how hearing ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ over and over again would make us think more about us and less about others. That afternoon we prayed and asked God to change our hearts from takers to givers. And we talked about all kinds of practical ideas that we could do to love on others.
I’m not sharing this because there was a happy perfect ending. I have shopped online and still managed to spend quite a bit of time buying Christmas gifts since then. After all I do have to buy presents for family... but I am now reminded that my children are watching closely. And that as little as they are, they pick up on things quickly. My hope for them is that they will be generous young men (or women) when they grow up. I hope they will truly understand what Christmas is all about one day. And I pray that I will show them by example and not just by words.