Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Ponderings

I finally awoke without a swollen throat! Just some sniffing and coughing now and then but how good it is to sip my morning coffee without a grimace. I'll continue with my tea toddies and extra vitamin C to keep infection from returning.

Next week is the "end of semester" week that I work so I need extra strength. I know they were concerned about my health (for good reason) so believe me, I plan to be healthy. I need that week of work this year and I can handle one week shelving textbooks. At the same time, it has been such a blessing seeing needs met. Whoever was responsible for the Charlie's Soap box appearing on my porch... THANK YOU!

I have mentioned many times that I was not a good receiver. For one thing, it requires humility and a humble spirit and I'd much prefer God working on my, um... giving and leadership skills? But He knows what part of the marble has to be chipped away to present me complete before the Father. Hopefully He won't say something like, "You should have seen what I had to start with!".

I've already written about the list I make each year, those things I would like to do during the Christmas Season. This year I knew they would have to be simple and costing very little (or nothing) so it has been quite easy to feel blessed.

My little Charlie Brown Goodwill tree looks amazing. Proof you can "glam up" something quite simple. I have enjoyed morning quiet times and evenings cuddled on the sofa with the tree lit in the corner.

I now have a pretty lace tablecloth on the dining table. It makes it look festive all the time, as if we were ready for an evening for putting on the Ritz. Christmas music fills the background and time is spent with books or a good movie.

There are gift bags under the tree, filled with gifts for the guys from The New England Contingent. Of course, I have mine already since I had to bag and wrap them (Steph sent everything home with Christopher in one huge bag when they met in Maryland).

They included the gift I picked out while we were in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It is now propped up on my bookshelf... a framed reproduction of old fashioned needlework with the words from Psalm 107:8 in simple stitches. I know, I should have waited until Christmas but it is so cute.

I love giving and receiving gifts from Stephanie. For her birthday, I sent her a package of small items I'd been collecting for sometime. It amazed both of us how everything sent was much wanted and needed, even the gloves I had purchased on clearance after Christmas last year! One of the gifts she sent me is Lavender Spray which I can hardly wait to use... it is under the tree. I didn't use such restraint to display the needlework.

I encouraged her to spend money this year. Really! (They are already great savers.) I truly believe in investing in the home and children with good quality toys and household items in prosperous years. They also found a good quality artificial tree, purchased in preseason sales. Their old one was dangerously "tippy" for a home with four active children. Of course, Grammies would think that money well spent. :)

When one has made quality purchases in good years, if seasons of limited ability to purchase come, there is already a tree and decorations that warm the heart and no money has to be spent... toys like Play Mobile and Lego's, classic books, board games, music, warm quilts, good quality cookware, tools for Dad, etc. Gifts given for years of use.

At the same time, managing their expectations with quality instead of quantity. Children receiving everything they ask for... too many packages at Christmas and Birthdays... will not know how to handle adversity. Some may never have to but I'm thinking many will.

Perhaps the greatest gift we can give our children (other than a heritage of faith) is an appreciative heart and freedom from excess... simplicity... quality vs. quantity... people vs. things... an afternoon baking cookies... conversation over coffee (with the older child)... a game of Candy Land played with the preschooler... time.


Debbie in CA : ) said...

Cozy must be in the air -- my post today was about cozy reading spots and warm teacups, and overflowing hearts of joy.

Thank you for this sweet, sweet read of a post, much needed at a time when so many are struggling. Our struggling years came early on in our marriage. With three kids that grew to five, we ALWAYS had simple Christmases. When the finances swelled the Christmas budget didn't. We kept it simple and have enjoyed ourselves all the more. No electronics or designers in attendance under the tree, just good old-fashioned handmade/homespun gifts. I give a festive meal, daddy decorates the outdoors, and the kids all make goodies (Rachel is really into sock dolls this year -- a post is coming soon).

You are a Titus 2 woman for me. I have no family around, so I am blessed by your words of wisdom and faithfulness. I lost my precious mentor this past May, but have found so many like her all over the place, even the blog, willing to pour forth a cupful of wisdom in nurturing love. Thank you for your open, honest blogging. Hard times need not produce hard hearts. You are a treasure Brenda. Enjoy your cozy day and GET BETTER! Prayers go up, blessings come down. : D

Christy@MercyEveryMorning said...

Glad you're feeling better!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Ahhhh, so nice to sit with you a spell as you share. I so agree with what you said about quality vs. quantity. Some of the toys you mentioned will be enjoyed for years and be passed down. We used blocks this morning that had been the grand's father's.

Enjoy your special times before the tree reading and healing! Stay well...

Rain said...

Such a lovely post Brenda. I really appreciate your thoughtful posts. They invoke such peace and contentment.
Many blessings to you.

ru4real? said...

As Debbie mentioned ... you have become a Titus 2 woman in my life. What a sweet blessing you are! The wisdom you share through your blog is so practical and usable and beautiful. Thank you for your discipline to keep your writings laced with God honoring advice. May you continue to heal and have all the strength you need in order to do the work you have before you next week.

Gumbo Lily said...

About that tippy Christmas tree and four busy children....we figured out a trick for that. Anchor the tree to the ceiling or a corner of the wall. We put a long screw in the stud of the wall (or ceiling)and then we tied wired to the tree and to the screw to keep the tree from tipping over.

I agree with purchasing a few good toys or books for the children that will grow with them rather than a bunch of cheapo junk that will wind up in the garbage bin.

Glad you're feeling better Brenda. I enjoyed your thoughts here.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with purchasing good quality toys that will be played with for years. My son has played with his Playmobil set for years and still loves it. My daughter had an American Girl doll that was played with for years and began her interest in history at a very early age. She read those books over and over. I would rather spend a little more on really good toys rather than a bunch of plastic junk that is broken a week after Christmas. Thank you for this entire post, Brenda. I love to log on and see that you have posted! Blessings-DMV

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

Brenda, thank you for putting me in such a wonderful cozy mood. I always get a blessing from your posts and sweet stories of your family.

Tracey McBride said...

Brenda, It is always such a gentle pleasure to read your essays. Thank you for your lovely thoughts. Whenever things get stressed and I'm feeling too caught up in things of the season, I like to turn to your blog and get my mind right.
Blessings to you.
P.S.I'm in the process of posting an award on my blog... and you're on the list!

Susan B said...

I'm glad you are feeling better. I agree that quality is always more important than quanity of things given. Time spent together will always be remembered more than numerous toys or gifts that have no meaning. Thank you for a lovely post.

martha said...

So glad to hear you're on the mend. Will pray with you that you are strong enough to work at the bookstore.

Threeblindsheep said...

I so identify with the problem in receiving. I love, love, love to give; receiving is a reticence, though. Thanks for the thoughts...loved reading you. SheepC

Anonymous said...

Not only do those classic sturdy toys last throughout a childhood ,..they last throughout their sisters and brothers childhoods too. Then they are on to the grandchildren. In our case the grandchildren have outgrown them and they are now being given to others who are just starting out in the journey so their children can enjoy them too!! How much learning and joy have these few toys given?...more than we could count! Jody

Anonymous said...

I have to add you are my Titus 2 woman too even though I am no doubt older than you are. I agree that the wisdom you pass along is greatly apreciated. I have no close women friends of faith and so this community of like minded women is a real blessing to me as it is for so many. I was very relieved to hear you are getting better and will continue to pray this continues and keeps that way!! Jody

Mrs. Staggs said...

I'm glad you're feeling better.

When my son was small, I really paid attention to the not over-doing part of gift giving. He always received too much anyway, because he had a big extended family, but our example at home really did stay with him. I never remember him asking for more than one thing each year, from Santa....which did 'cause me to panic one year, when I didn't find it until the very last minute. It arrived on Christmas Eve in the evening, all the way from NYC. Anyhow, his cousins always received so very much more. It didn't seem to faze him, and now, many people have said that we did the right thing by him, because he truly as an appreciation for what he has, and he loves things like books, which is wonderful, I think.