Entries from December 1, 2009 - January 1, 2010
I do not have the maturity to play the ubiquitous White Elephant game so popular this time of year. You know the one where everyone brings a wrapped gift, everyone picks a number....#1 picks and opens a present, #2 can steal from #1 or pick a gift. #3 can steal from 1 or 2 or open another gift etc., until you run out of gifts or patience. There is always the debate whether or not #1 gets stuck or can steal from anyone else to end the game, or how many times a single gift can be stolen before it is “frozen” and can't be stolen anymore. The answer is 2 steals in case you are wondering. I hope that point is now settled.
For years we have played this game in the various women’s ministries I have been part of. Since I was a “leader” I had to set a good example and that usually meant I couldn’t steal from anyone else (so as not to risk hurt feelings). Or I had to be gracious when someone would take my wonderful present sitting on my lap and give me the dud gift. There is always at least one dud gift. The one no one wants, the one the giver is embarrassed to have brought (and well she should be), and I have to be gracious that it is now in my lap because I am a leader and her feelings are more important than her gift. I still haven’t forgiven the one woman who encouraged another to take the Starbucks ornament I had already bonded with.
I have always behaved myself at these women ministry events. However freed from the role of leader I am not a gracious White Elephant player. I just hung the beautiful sparkly ball I stole from a 12 year old at a mother-daughter luncheon. I stuck her with the dud gift too! I should feel some shame at this but I hung that ball with a sense of triumph. At a friend’s birthday party I picked a Starbucks mug and emitted a “do not mess with my gift vibe” that surprised the others sitting near me. I love that mug.
I have concluded that this is not a good game for me to play.
You have been warned.
First posted 12/18/08
In paintings, Mary's image is often that of a frail child/woman (frequently with blue eyes and blond hair…that is just weird). Mary was one smart, practical chick.
I am not sure how I would respond if an angel showed up while I was going about my daily business. When the Angel rolled the stone from Jesus' tomb, the Roman centurions guarding it fell as dead men (Matt 28:4). Mary, on the other hand, asks a no-nonsense question. 400 years of silence, no prophets in Israel, Gabriel announces that she is to be the mother of the nations longed for Messiah: “How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin.”
35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1
What is the first thing this intrepid young woman does? She hightails it off to check out the angel's words, to see if her cousin is indeed 6 months pregnant! Elizabeth’s greeting confirms what Mary has been told and the missing of several periods would be additional confirmation. Not to mention morning sickness if she had any.
Three months later, she returns home to have a little conversation with Joseph that evidently did not go as well as it could have. God intervenes and Joseph (a remarkable man in his own right), takes Mary into his home.
As her due date is approaching, Caesar calls for a census and Joseph is forced to travel 60 miles to the town of his ancestors to be counted. He takes his very pregnant betrothed and most likely traveling with Mary riding in a wagon, they go from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This young woman planning ahead, takes swaddling clothes with her.
Her child is born under less then ideal circumstances and shortly after company (Luke 2) arrives. Before the child is two, the young family will flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s plot to kill her son. Before their flight, wise men show up at the house with gifts. They worship her son! The gifts are provision for Joseph’s family’s time in Egypt.
Mary was not only smart, tough and practical; she was a woman of faith, confident in her God. It was this confidence, nurtured long before the Angel's appeared, that carried this then unknown woman through what was going to be the unique events of the next few years.
And through the most pivotal event in history. She would see her baby die on a cross and rise again!
6And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers." Luke 1
When Princess was home from college during the Thanksgiving break, she mentioned that many of her friends buy their parents a bottle of champagne for Christmas. Not a bad idea but as a year to year gift, one lacking imagination. When considering what to get your parents here are some ideas to consider.
Parents are people. They have hobbies, reading and entertainment preferences and things they may enjoy having, but would never buy for themselves. People have mouths and can voice preferences. Ask them what they would like.
If your parents are among the many who say, “Oh nothing”....don’t you believe it. If they do not want stuff (I like stuff by the way) they would still enjoy some time with you. Plan a meal out with one or both parents, just the 2 or 3 of you. Plan an outing that your parent would enjoy, and enjoy with you. Parents are cheap dates. If you are really tapped out, do something with your parent that he or she, or they, would enjoy and enjoy doing with you - and don’t whine or complain or have a martyr complex. If it is a visit to Aunt Isobel, a concert with music that puts you to sleep (you have to stay awake), or the desire to buy you some “decent clothes”, go with the focus on them and their pleasure in this time with you. Dress to please them, and don’t insist that people they don’t enjoy join in on this particular outing.
If you are married and live away from your in-laws, giving them some one on one time with their child is a thoughtful thing to do. Think of it as a secret present to your in-laws. Feel free to nicely point out your thoughtfulness to your spouse.
If you really want to bring down the house, write a letter about a memory from childhood that involves your parents in a good, positive way. Avoid the handwriting issue by printing it on nice paper with a fancy but readable font. You can buy a few sheets of beautiful heavy bond paper at business supple stores like Staples.
Have an idea, please share...
First published 7/29/09 - Something to think about as you are buying gifts.
There is nothing wrong with spending money on your grandkids. Just make sure your kindness to the kids is not causing problems with their parents. When I was a MOPS mentor, one of the biggest complaints parents had was too much stuff from the grandparents. The kids were being spoiled and the house is cluttered with more things than the children could use or appreciate. Remember spoiled grandchildren grow up to be snotty, rude teens that sneer at the people who spoiled them.
Invest your money in a 529 for your grandkids, a digital camera and experiences. Take them bowling, teach them what you love: fishing, chess, cooking, baseball. Buy stuff that is attached to experiences. A baseball from the ball game. Postcards for the art hunt at the museum. Go to Build A Bear together rather than buying another stuffed animal at the store (even if it is soft and cuddly, does your grandkid really need 47 stuffed animals?). Go to the movies and send them home with gift certificates so they can go with their parent or friends. Go to the bead store or the craft shop, pick out the beads and make the necklaces together rather then buying a kit. Go to the farmers market and pick out something interesting to cook together. (Just don’t be disappointed if your grandchild doesn’t eat the vegetable even after you prepare it together. Memories are not about the final destination but the journey). Buy a piece of music together and offer to help pay for ongoing piano, guitar or whatever lesson as part of a birthday or Christmas gift (if that is okay with the parents.)
Unless it was a long yearned for, hoped for, dreamed of toy, kids don’t remember who bought them what. They do remember who did what with them. Taking pictures and looking at them together also helps cement memories, hence the digital camera.
I have heard tell that it is easy to send pictures over the internet.
If you could educate your parents as to what you think would be a great present for your child, what would you tell them?
Need ideas while the kids are visiting:The Grandkids Are Coming: The Series
My parents had eight kids in ten and a half years. I look back in awe each year as I decorate our tree, remembering how when we were little children my sisters, brother and I would all go to bed Christmas Eve (sometimes after attending midnight mass) and awake to find a fully decorated Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Mom didn't just toss us all in bed on the eve of Christmas. She had 7 daughters and one active son who had to look pressed and polished by mass the next day. 8 little bodies to bath, 7 heads of hair to curl, shoes to be polished, dresses to be pressed, tights to be tightened. This in addition to presents to wrapped if not assembled, shopping to get accomplished (mom didn't drive!!), baking to get done and any extra commitments that having several kids in elementary school commit a mom too, not to mention several still in diapers underfoot.
Still she and dad would decorate a huge Christmas tree with colored lights and glass balls and garland and tinsel. We kids would wake with excitement; sending the youngest non-crawling sibling in on tip toe to wake up mom and dad on Christmas morning.
We had to wait at the top of the stairs as dad went to check to see if Santa had come. As we burst (8 kids moving at the speed of light, some still in diapers, bursting is what we did) into the living room, the tree would be ablaze in all its Christmas finery.
Decorating for the Christmas is more than an event of the moment. For a child it is part of the memories that last a lifetime. Thanks Mom and Dad, Merry Christmas
Your next stop on the HOP: Chatbug Karen at Winding Threads