Thursday, 18 December 2014

For all of you who wonder what it's like to have a writing coach - here is the exact same article that I posted on Monday, but now it is so much better! Read on and be amazed at the difference a writing coach can make....

Survival’s been my goal the last four or five Christmases. Managing the season’s expenses as a single Mom with four kids meant couponing, cashing in points and shopping in WalMart’s clearance section.

Being super-thrifty has become my way of life. After all, my Mom was a frugal McDougall, and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But this year is different. Why? Because my lovely husband Jarrett taught me a couple months ago: My kids don’t know how to give each other gifts. 

Sure, we did Secret Santa each year. We drew names and spent a whopping five dollars on each other. I gave them gifts from me and Santa and Mama (Grandma). We hung stockings and stuffed them with five requisite items. Terry’s Chocolate Orange was the highlight. 

I know Christmas is about giving, not receiving. (Yes, I know it’s actually about Jesus birth;  I know Him intimately) But I was so consumed with ensuring my kids received,  that I didn’t provide them opportunity to give. I never noticed that, but Jarrett did—especially on birthdays.

So Jarrett devised a plan: give each kid $100 and charge them with the task of buying their siblings a thoughtful Christmas present. No gift cards allowed.

My inner frugal McDougall had a conniption. What happened to good stewardship? Couldn’t they give each other hand made coupons and be happy? Between us, we have five kids. That’s a lot of money! But Jarrett says, “We can be generous. Our budget can handle one month of perceived excess.”

Most of the kids are delighted, but the oldest feels inconvenienced. “We’ve never done this before,” he says. “Why the sudden material display of affection?”

In the last two weeks, we’ve put up the tree, decorated the house and baked Christmas goodies. But something else more important has taken place. The kids are holding late night secret meetings, passing notes, asking new questions and giggling. Fun!

Ten days remain before Saint Nick arrives. The tree has more gifts stacked under it than ever before, and I struggle with thinking I’ve sold out to materialism. I need to remind myself that this experiment isn’t about things. 

It’s reminding me that, in many ways, my winter season has ended. It’s acknowledging that this may be my eldest’s last Christmas at home for awhile. Next year he heads to university and he’ll spend  December 25, 2015 at his dad’s.  It’s giving my kids the opportunity to experience extravagance—like Jesus’ extravagant love for us, His kids. 

I can celebrate that. 

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