In the past, friends have passed the name of our family to our church, who have never failed to take care of us. We've also been sponsored by organizations, and it's always a blessing to see your children's faces light up when they see presents under a tree that has been....well, sort of empty for the entire month of December. And my family never fails to remember my children, even though I know it is a challenge for them to shop for six additional kids.
But I didn't put my family's name on any list this year. I figured there are lots of other people in our community that need this more than we do. We would have a very humble Christmas and I knew that my children would adapt because deep down, they are very simple creatures. I love love love that about them. What they adore most in the world: mama, daddy, grandma-mama, Papa, aunties, uncles, cousins, friends, brothers, sisters, laughter, food, dance parties--they would have in abundance.
That is how many gifts they each got from Michael and I. And they weren't three extravagant things, either. Three very humble, very simple gifts. One thing they need (like socks, gloves or underwear), one thing cheesy thing that Michael and Maya picked out from the dollar store and the third gift would be something that they could pick out for themselves, like a set of headphones (Noah), a book (Diego), a necklace (Maya), a new Wii game (Solomon), a new Lego set (Cyan) and a Barbie refrigerator complete with tiny food for the girls' repurposed doll playhouse (Xixi).
Their constant question of Mom, when are you going to buy us Christmas presents so we can put them under the tree? was really starting to wear on me. I couldn't be angry with them, judging from the pitiful pile of gift bags under the tree. I kept praying. Not that God would send me a bunch of money so that I could buy the chil'rens everything they wanted. I have seen firsthand the craziness, the greed, the ungrateful attitudes my children can display after a gift opening frenzy has occurred.
I prayed for a humble spirit. A thankful spirit. I meditated on a few of my favorite words in the Bible:
Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
My treasures are my husband, my children and my family. Are you waiting to read that we woke up on Christmas morning to discover a huge box full of amazing gifts on the front porch, from some mysterious and generous gift giver? Nope. But God is still good and the chil'rens were still generously provided for. And I have a house full of contented children, pleased with the small things they received.
Content children= a very happy, peaceful mama.
Image source: A "love" ornament that I hand-painted for our Christmas tree.