Hi again, Songix3 readers. It’s been awhile since we wrote. In the beginning of 2012, when we first started up SongSix3, it was my belief that Tiffani would rise up to be the strong writer here, and I would take a lesser role. It’s funny how it’s turned out completely opposite of that. But as I sit here and think things over, I guess I’m really not all that surprised. I am married to an awesome lady who happens to be the mom to our SIX children. Even though two of them are adults, keeping four active children happy, healthy and homeschooled is a FULL TIME JOB!
Neither of us are strong writers – at least not during this particular season of our lives. I work full time outside the home, and have a pretty full schedule even when not in the office – to include both family & ministry stuff. Tiffani runs the homeschool, and manages our home & small family farm. And between us we have our farm animals to care for on a daily basis. So it seems there’s never a dull moment around here!
In August, I wrote a 7-part series looking back over our 25 years of marriage. It caused me to really examine the ups and downs we’ve experienced along our marriage path. It was interesting to note the progression of maturity as we came through the years together. Our way of thinking, and the decisions we make today are definitely very different from the way we would have handled similar situations in the distant past.
The way we’ve handled “Christmas” in general is one of those areas of growth I can see. Both of us grew up in an era where there was always lots of “stuff” under the tree on Christmas morning – stockings were crammed full over the fireplace with of all sorts of goodies. This was just normal, natural life – and we expected it – year after year. Having that sort of upbringing, we came into the marriage with the expectation that this is what we were going to give our kids too.
Now, we have never been particularly well off. When you’re very small, you have NO CLUE of what mommy and daddy are spending to make all that “magic” happen. When we became very young parents together, with one child it wasn’t bad. We bought a few things, and everyone was happy. Then we had two kids… all of a sudden I had to take out a signature loan at the military credit union just to continue that “magic” under the Christmas tree. But then, guess what? The realization hit me that WE HAD TO PAY THAT BACK! Whoa… whole new ball game here.
To truly understand where I’m headed with this story, a little financial background is needed. With the exception of a couple of years way back when Tiffani was still in the outside-the-home workforce (as a WELL-compensated Java programmer), we have lived pretty much paycheck-to-paycheck for most of our marriage. And each year, the cost of living raise never quite matches the increase in prices of the things we purchase. I also spent 5 months on unemployment in 2010, which caused us to accrue tens of thousands in unwanted debt. (We continue to tink away at that bill, month after month.)
So anyway, where I’m headed here is that each year, it’s been more and more stressful to (as they say) “keep up with the Joneses”. But that is what our society teaches us from a very young age! And we’ve always sort of known that, but never really gave it a lot of thought – until this year. Earlier in 2012, Tiffani and I began to talk about our thoughts on what Christmas would be like this year. And it’s amazing how God has brought us to this place in our thinking along virtually the same timeline.
At some point in history (I don’t know when), it was decided that the holiday season that we now know as “Christmas” was going to be considered the celebration of Christ’s birth into this lost world. That’s the extremely simple explanation, and for me, that’s fine. I’m ok with that little bit of knowledge. We know that December 25th isn’t the specific day of His birth, but that matters very little to me. What does matter is that we are PICKING A DAY and honoring the birth of our Savior.
Over the past several years, we’ve been slowly simplifying our family gift-giving traditions. Have you ever heard of the “Three Wise Men” gift tradition? It’s interesting, works pretty well, and allows for good teaching moments with your young children. The three gifts given by the Magi were gold, frankincense and myrrh. These are represented today like this: “Gold” (something costly or precious) would be one thing they really want, such as a toy, a CD, or an electronic game. “Frankincense” (it’s supposed to be fragrant or smell good, like the incense) is something for the body – clothes, cologne, specialty soap, etc… “Myrrh” (a preservative) is represented by something for their spiritual growth – like a new Bible, study guide, or the like. We have grown to really appreciate the simpleness of this.
So with that in mind, in our discussions Tiffani and I came to a total agreement that we were going to stop stressing & worrying about what was (or wasn’t) under our Christmas tree, and instead concentrate our efforts on teaching our children what the true spirit of Christmas is. We refuse to put our family any deeper into debt because society says we’re supposed to. Instead, I believe Jesus would have His birthday celebration be about the family gathering together (immediate & extended), sharing meals, the elders teaching the younger in the ways of God & sharing family history, playing games, praying & worshiping together, and so on. Sure, gift giving is nice – and I DO NOT believe that God has any problem with the sharing of gifts! (Please do not take THAT away from reading this!) Instead, I believe that Jesus would have the gift giving take a back seat to all those other things I just mentioned above. Rather than being “the main event”, we believe it should be almost an after thought.
The commercialization of Christmas has really made us examine deeply what it means to US – the SongSix3 family. American society has created enormous pressure to bury ourselves in debt to “have a nice Christmas”. We have realized that we don’t need to do anything of the sort in order to have a BLESSED Christmas! All we really NEED is our family and Jesus. Anything else we happen to receive is a blessing – above and beyond!
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net