Every year as December approaches, a slightly anxiety-ridden internal dialogue begins to roll around in my head…Christmas is coming…and how are we going to celebrate this year? The tidal wave of consumerism and materialism is headed our way and I want to fight it but I don’t know how!
I want to teach my kids to embrace and have an appreciation for the values of simplicity and generosity that we say we hold dear, but how are we ever going to accomplish that in the middle of our suburban lifestyle complete with Minecraft, Rainbow Loom, and Disney princesses?
To the horror of my family, I’ve often come close to demanding that we abandon gift-giving altogether! If we say that ‘things’ are not important, then let’s prove it once and for all! Let’s throw away the need to exchange physical presents and instead serve others, enjoy shared experiences and simply spend time being grateful together. And so began my journey, this year, in developing what I am calling #GiveFive.
My goal is simple: to spend five days practicing and experiencing all sorts of different kinds of generous and holistic love (think Five Love Languages) with people both inside and outside of our family. It’s not really surprising that as a Christ-follower, I think Christmas should be all about Jesus! And when I think about what he wants for us, more than anything else I think he wants us to experience his love. So this Christmas, in my family, I want our focus to be all about love too.
I’ve made my list and I’ve checked it twice. Here what #GiveFive is going to look like for us:
We’re going to #GiveTime! I’ve made arrangements to spend the morning with a local residential home for children with disabilities where we sometimes go to hang out with the kids to sing and make crafts. My kids always love these visits. It’s gonna be great and I’m excited.
We’re going to #GiveHelp! We have friends who run a community dinner and this is going to be a bit more of a challenge. I anticipate a lot of whining and general grumpiness from my kids as they even think about cleaning and tidying. Pray for us that make it through day two!
We’re going to #GiveHugs! I’m going to sprinkle opportunities for sharing high fives, cuddles and hugs all throughout the day. I cannot imagine that this will go well with my ten year old. Only time will tell.
We’re going to #GiveWords! Speaking kindness and encouragement is quite common during our mealtimes. It is usually, however, followed closely by arguments and verbal bashings, so that’s the part I’m going to suggest we omit for the day.
NOT because it is the most important of the love languages but purely because it fits best with our schedule that week – we’re going to #GiveGifts! No doubt this will be a fan-favourite as we finally each take time to share presents with each other and some of our friends and neighbours.
At this point my grand ideas are just that – grand ideas! I’ve accomplished nothing more than creating a fun hash-tag-branded family experience. I have no credibility to speak to the impact and life-change that either will or will not result from my little experiment. But at the end of the day, isn’t that what parenting is all about? – Having an idea and trying it out. #GiveFive
What ideas are you trying out this Christmas?
[If you're on Twitter and were inspired by this post, feel free to tell us how you are planning to #GiveTime, #GiveHelp, #GiveHugs, #GiveWords, or #GiveGifts. Perhaps you'd be interested in a #GiveFive challenge. Post a comment and let us know!]