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.

 treasure

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!

Merry Christmas!

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Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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12 thoughts on “Christmas 2012 Thoughts

  1. I love this! It is a struggle to balance the kids’ desires for wonderful (and often expensive) Christmas gifts and a focus on Christ’s coming. Good for you and Tiffani.
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…A Wife’s Insecurities, A Husband’s ResponseMy Profile

    1. Jason says:

      Hi J! Always a blessing to see you’ve dropped by our little blog! We certainly don’t have it all perfected, but we’re trying to teach the kids (and ourselves!) to have a heart of gratitude no matter how much or how little we have. As I responded to Kevin’s comment below… the story of the grinch always gets me at the end. Those Whoville folks have NOTHING, and they are singing joyfully! Could we do that? We are SO spoiled in America, but I very much want to be able to answer “yes” to that question.

      Thanks so much for the comment!
      ~Jason

  2. Kevin Riner says:

    Yup! We did that a few years ago. I must admit I hated the transition because I like getting big presents and I like giving them too. But there comes a time when you just gotta sit back and say, “Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters. Merry Christmas. You get my time this year for your present because that’s really all I can afford. Gimme a hug!”

    1. Jason says:

      Hey Kevin! Yep, I’d have to agree with you… I too love giving big gifts, but we’ve just reached the point where that’s not really feasible anymore. The economy just doesn’t allow it. I also kind of get the distinct feeling that this is the new “normal” for America. So we must adjust accordingly with the long-term in mind. I really do want our kids to truly learn what Christmas is about at it’s HEART. Funny enough, everytime I read “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” to my kids from the huge Dr. Seuss book we have, I get pricked in my spirit towards the end when the Who village all stands around singing JOYFULLY in spite of the fact that the grinch has run off with everything they had for the celebration. I want my family to be able to do the very same thing!

      Blessings bro!
      ~Jason

  3. Kim says:

    Going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace really opened our eyes to where our money was going. Yikes. We applied it to our Christmas giving as well, and really trimmed down what we were doing. We went from “there’s money in the checkbook-let’s spend MORE!” to much more intentional and smaller giving. Our young adult daughters loved the trimming down, as it really made us focus our giving, and it allowed for much more time together and far less stress. Bigger, splashier, and more expensive was definitely NOT bettter! Thanks for this post-your message is one that can’t be told often enough!
    Kim recently posted…Got encouragement?<br/>Time to give and receive: It&#8217;s a linkup!My Profile

    1. Jason says:

      Hi Kim! At one point we borrowed the Dave Ramsey DVD set, but because we were so busy at the time, we never got to watch it before the owner needed them back. We have heard so much GOOD feedback about his money management methods that we look forward to the chance to actually watch them soon.

      Thank you for stopping in, AND for the great comment!

      1. Kim says:

        Just this summer they completely revamped the program. It’s now 9 weeks instead of 13! I really can’t recommend it highly enough. A friend of mine and her family reluctantly began the program when they went over the edge because of their son’s medical issue, and she is now a huge cheerleader for wise personal financial planning and stewardship. She just launched her book about their messy and successful story, which she said they couldn’t have done without their faith: Living Beyond Rich. It’s really great! You can find it here: http://theironjen.com/store/
        Kim recently posted…Got encouragement?<br/>Time to give and receive: It&#8217;s a linkup!My Profile

        1. Jason says:

          That’s cool that they’ve cut down the length of the program! Maybe we can find a way to pack it in… the life of a farmer (and high-tech career guy) is never boring, that’s for sure!

          I will also take a look at your friends’ book. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Jason! I have felt this way for a long time and it’s nice to see others adopting similar notions that Christmas has lost its magic in the stress if gift buying and expectations of gifts. We have always kept out Christmases small and simple regardless of our financial situation but I presented he Wise man gift idea to the husband. I think the husband will like it.
    Jennifer recently posted…Sons & Daughters by Brady Boyd Brings Us all HomeMy Profile

    1. Jason says:

      That’s great, Jennifer! Tell him to come talk to me if he wants any “Three Wisemen” ideas that work with little children. I’d be happy to share with him!

      Thanks for dropping in! Always a blessing!
      ~Jason

  5. Fawn Weaver says:

    Such wisdom in these words. We were taught growing up that it was Jesus’ birthday not ours. Leading up to Christmas, we’d have index cards with the names of families on them and their needs. We’d spend the weekend before Christmas buying their kids toys and clothes and purchasing food for their Christmas dinner. This is all I’ve ever known so Christmas has never been stressful for me (in the least). And on top of this stress-free type of Christmas, my husband and I married on December 27th so we’re always celebrating our anniversary and his birthday (he’s a Christmas Eve baby) during that time and not thinking for even a moment about what the world expects from us. It’s a pretty cool existence :).
    Fawn Weaver recently posted…His Mother, The Second Coming & A Shot Gun WeddingMy Profile

    1. Jason says:

      Thanks for stopping in, Fawn! Sounds like what you’ve grown up with is where we’re trying to get to! Our family way of life has gone through MANY changes over the past two years since we bought a small abandoned farm. We (who were once “city folks”) are learning to do many things the old-fashioned way. It is often hard work, but the feeling of “a job well done” is a great reward!

      Thank you for commenting!

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