Sunday, May 5, 2013

Be Thankful for what you have - A lesson for my three children

*It may be spring time and the grass, leaves and flowers are sprouting up but I have just been reminded of this story and thought I'd share anyway.  Better late than never...

Christmas 2012
As I individually wrapped my well planned and thought out prank gifts for my children just days before Christmas, I had to chuckle to myself.  I could just imagine them opening the packages with big smiles across their faces only for their expressions to drop and look up at me with wondering eyes.   The more I thought about it, however, the more I wondered:  What if this was all I had to give?  What if these were their only gifts?  The gifts did take a lot of thought and planning and I took the time to select each item for each specific child.  Although they were meant to be funny, I put my heart into these gifts.

The Christmas prank suddenly turned into the perfect opportunity to teach my children a very important moral.  Christmas was not about getting all of the newest, most expensive gadgets.  It's not about the number of gifts under the tree.  It's not a competition to see who gets the most;  it's about the joy of the heart, of giving and most importantly, to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus who selflessly lived his life and gave his life - for us!

My plan had now changed.  To thicken the plot, I decided to throw one more moral into the mix.  Nothing irritates me more than children tearing down those stairs on Christmas morning and in three chaotic minutes, have everything ripped to shreds.  With a blink of an eye, Christmas morning is 'over'.  With any other reward in our lives, we must work for it.  I took that fact and turned it into a fun adventure.

After wrapping the special gifts, I hid each box in a different part of our home.  On Christmas Eve, I carefully attached a string (in a different color for each one of my kids) to each box and weaved it through the house.  A spider web of green, blue and pink littered my home, around chairs, through curtain rods, wrapping around the ceiling fan blades.  It looked like laser beams protecting a wealthy society bank vault.

I had to let out another chuckle to think of what the kids would think when they bounded down the steps the next morning.  Would they laugh?  Would they be confused?

Christmas morning came.  I woke to find three people standing near my bed with wrinkled brows and confused eyes.  "Mom?"  My oldest said.  "There's string all over the house.  Is that supposed to be a barrier so we can't get to the tree?"
I had to laugh at that one.

As we made our way out, I told them that nothing in this life is easy, free or just handed over.  If you want to enjoy the rewards of this day, they were going to have to work for it.  In our front closet was each of their backpacks which each held the beginning of their strings.  One by one, bumping into each other and weaving in and out of the lines, they began winding up their strings following it to 'the end of the rainbow'.
With some frustration and a few giggles, they all found their packages.  Almost breathless but excited, they all sat down and opened them one by one.

"One more thing."  I had to add.  "These will be your ONLY gifts this year.  The packages under the tree are just empty, wrapped up boxes."  Even through their astonished expressions, they were ready to tear into the gifts that sat in front of them.

My oldest, Austin (16) opened his first - He received a forked stick in one package and a simple office rubber band in the other.  Riley (9) opened his to find a rock and a paperclip and Madelynn (5) tore through hers to find a button and piece of string.

What happened next, I could never have predicted!

Madelynn squealed with delight and came running into my arms.  Austin, although completely baffled, looked over his stick and rubber band and began arranging them stating he was going to make a sling shot.  Madelynn decided her string and button would make a beautiful necklace.  Although Riley was at a loss of what to do with his rock and paperclip, everyone chimed in to give him suggestions.

I was a proud momma!  I didn't quite expect anger or tantrums but I never would have guessed that they would be so inventive and accepting of this little test and lesson that I decided to bestow upon them that morning.  It showed me how incredible my children are and showed myself that I must have been doing something right all of these years.

I thank God every day for my children and pray that He continues to guide me through their upbringing.  He is the reason for that Christmas being one of our best ones ever and will forever be in our memories and hearts.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.   Hebrews 13:5