Joy is defined in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as a feeling of great happiness. We are in a season of happiness yet many families do not feel happiness. It could be for a number of reasons, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or loss of a home, but they have sadness none the less. As I sit and think about the seasons that have come and gone, I am reminded by a season, two years ago, when I was working with a family with a severely autistic child very early in December. I was working hard to help them get the educational outcome that the child needed and the mom, bless her, looked at me during one of our many preparation meetings and said “It’s December and because I got called so many days to pick up my son, I lost my job. Now I can’t afford gifts and I missed the sign up at the Salvation Army.” As I completed my work with this family, I thought to myself, I was not working full time, my savings had dwindled after losing my job earlier that year, and I was facing a similar reality, but I knew that I would be able to work something out. This mom, not from South Carolina with no family close by, was still grappling with her reality, which is a reality that no parent or child should have to face.
I sit and I look at Holiday commercials of the joy of shopping in the season of giving. I watch people shopping in WalMart and other stores, buying items that their kids have added to their wish list and I wonder if they feel joy as they are making their purchases or are they adding up in their head how much will be going on their credit card or how much less will be in their electric bill or water bill? Are they adding up in their heads how much money they will be spending this year and how many items their children will not play with or will forget about? I am not that parent. I am a parent that provides her children with joy with five items, clothing, and a pair of shoes. Most people that I relay this to say why so little? It is because of the simple principle of less is more. I give my love, I give my time, and I know I am present for my children so to me the number of presents, not really that important. What is important is that I am the first face they see in the morning and the last face that they see at night. That is the most important part of this. So the number of gifts under the tree they gloss over, the fact that mom is sitting there with the camera to capture their faces means more.
So many families, like mine, face realities everyday of deciding how to make things work. How do I make ends meet and provide my children with a Christmas? Sometimes, it is through the kindness of strangers that take their children’s name and wish list off of a tree and buy for them. Sometimes, it’s through their hard work of trying to do what they can through out the year to make it work. At the end of the day, it is about doing what you can all year to show your children that you love them, you care for them, and that you respect them, but you want them to know the real reason for the season and that it’s not wrapped up in fancy wrapping and tissue paper.
The name of this post speaks for itself. Some parents struggle with finding joy during this season. Some families struggle with finding food. Some families are homeless and have no where to go. Some families are facing foreclosure, hospital bills, debt, and the list goes on and on. Some families have the joy of knowing that the reason we celebrate Christmas has nothing to do with a fat guy in a suit cascading down a chimney, but everything do with the birth of a baby in a manger. They find joy and solace in this, but they still feel the pang of disappointment that they can not go and shop like others. Am I one of those people, no. Do I know people like this? Yes! What is my message to them? Start a tradition. Start making Christmas ornaments to give to a member of the family or to go on the tree. You can dig into Pineterest and find something interesting. Start making handmade gifts to give to others instead of store bought. Myself, I bake for others sometimes instead of trying to pay for a gift that they may not like. Last but not least, make gift bags of essentials to give to the homeless such as toothpaste, deodorant, baby wipes, and soap. All of those items you can find in the dollar store and you can collect them all year and place them in brown paper bags and write “Merry Christmas” on the front.
My message is simple, find joy in other places. Find joy in looking past your circumstances and doing something for someone else and that goes to those that are financially in a place where they shower their children with gifts and those that do not have the means to shower their children with gifts. You can make a difference in the life of a person if you just try a little harder. As for that mom, she found a way to provide for her children what she could and though I imagine she was sad that it was not a whole lot, it was still something. This season, look beyond the gifts, beyond the decorations, and look at the person. Just a simple hello, Happy Holiday’s, or a Merry Christmas can go a long way, but so can giving of yourself to the less fortunate. Joy is defined as a feeling of great happiness, do you feel joy during this season of giving? If you do, tell me why in one sentence?