• I Promised Myself Big Christmases


    I know it is Christmastime and things are supposed to be merry. And they are. But it’s a sad time too, because our friend Kevin Hill passed away last night, after years of fighting cancer. You can read the Hill’s story here. It was just a few weeks ago in November that I was driving them to his birthday dinner and he was asking me about my blog. He gently put his hand on Rachel’s shoulder as we were chatting, a touch that I will always remember. He was so alive that day. He was so gentle, patient, and thankful.

    So I have to acknowledge this in my post. Because even though my life goes on, the lives of my sweet friends Rachel and Kevin are changing forever. Kevin is with Jesus. Rachel lost the love of her life. She will have to raise her two small children on her own without Kevin. How could this happen?

    While we always wish for a miracle, we always pray for God’s will to be done. We don’t understand his ways. But we are thankful that he knows and sees all things. He is in control. Thank you, Jesus.

    Hug your husband tightly this Christmas. Thank God for a healthy strong man to care for you and your children, even though he’s not perfect, even though marriage isn’t what you dreamed it would be. Thank God for him and show your husband how thankful you are to have him today.

    I Promised Myself Big Christmases

    When I was a teenager, I promised myself a few things when it came to my future family.

    I promised myself I would never stop reading teen magazines so I would always know what was in style.

    I promised myself I would never tell my kids we didn’t have enough money to do sports and dance classes.

    I promised myself I would never dress my children in what I wanted them to wear, but I would let them wear whatever they wanted.

    I promised myself that I would never fight with my husband in front of my kids.

    I would never put work before spending time with my kids.

    I would always get in the pool with my kids when we went swimming, and I would always ride bikes with my kids.

    And I would ALWAYS have big Christmases, with lots of presents piled under the tree, presents in stacks that reached the ceiling.

    I laugh at these things now, but as I read through the list I realize that I have failed every single one of those promises.

    Since today is Christmas Eve, I am going to focus on the last one: big Christmases.

    I realize now, as a parent of four children, that the toys and games and stuff just sits around for a while and then gets tossed—or sold at a garage sale for one dollar.

    Not to mention that there isn’t any room for more stuff. And even though it’s fun for a while, the joy of getting new toys and games is so temporary.

    A few years ago when I was shopping for my daughters for Christmas, I realized that I wasn’t really finding what I was looking for. I was longing to get them something meaningful, something that would last longer than video games, dolls, and new shoes.

    So I started a new tradition of writing a letter to each one of my kids every Christmas. The letters are words of affirmation (my love language), stories that show their personalities, and prayers/blessings over their lives.

    I bought a book for each child that holds letters, family Christmas cards, and pictures with Santa. When the kids are older, I will wrap the books each year and put them under the tree with the other gifts. So each year they will read something encouraging from Mom, and they can laugh at the memories written in the old letters.

    My kids still get a gift from Santa, a few gifts from Mom and Dad, and a bunch of presents from their grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

    But with this new tradition—letters from Mom—my hope is that they will be reminded of how much I love them, and most importantly, how much Jesus loves them.

    My oldest daughter found the books a few days ago and started reading through all the letters. Suddenly, she burst into tears.

    “What’s wrong?” I asked.

    “Your letters are so nice!” she cried. “And my sister is so cute! How could I ever be mean to her?”

    This year we are using a small fake tree—the same small fake tree my parents used to use when I was a kid—and we opted to not send Christmas cards to help us stay within our budget.

    It’s OK. The living room still looks cozy. We will send cards next year. I am trying to practice living out what is really important. I am trying to demonstrate to my children what holds weight and value for our family, but more poignantly, I am trying to discipline my own spirit to desire Jesus and not the traditions of Christmas.

    Big Christmases. In my heart I still wish I could fulfill my promises from when I was a teen. But I also have a new perspective now that I have four kids and I am in my thirties.

    We don’t understand why we don’t get what we want until we are older and look back. We realize we should have been thankful for what we did have instead of wanting more.

    Hold your loved ones tightly this Christmas.

    God bless you. Merry Christmas from the Rotunnos.