Having a blended family and split household, Christmas for me means calling my ex and checking what time is good for me to pick up the kids. It’s a good arrangement that works out for the both of us given she has the kids on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, while I get to spend most of Christmas day with them.
I pick up my kids and they spend the short drive to my house telling me about all the cool gifts they got. I smile as I listen to their grin-filled stories, all the while hoping they were not given one of the gifts that await them at my house.
Video games, art supplies, gift certificates, and as was the case with my daughter this year, a new Kindle; it’s always a joy to live Christmas through the eyes of my children.
As we get to my house, they both eagerly tear through the gifts that await them, and are both thankful and appreciative for what they’ve received. Inevitably, they look at my wife and me and ask, “What did you get for Christmas?”
It’s at that time that I explain to them the philosophy my wife and I share with regards to Christmas presents. We both feel we live a very blessed life, one that includes being able to do most of what we want to do throughout the year. Concerts, weekend getaways, special events, cruises; if we can manage it, we do it. The same holds true for material items. If I’m itching for a something I want, and it’s not going to put us in a financial bind, I usually go out and get it. For us, we celebrate Christmas 365 days a year.
That being the case, we specifically don’t give each other gifts for Christmas. It’s different and did take some getting used to, but we found through trial and error that we were giving each other gifts out of a feeling of obligation and Christmas ‘requirement’. As such, the gifts we exchanged when we first got together were either not practical or caused so much stress in terms of finding the “perfect” gift. Consequently, we decided to simplify Christmas and agree on no gifts between the two of us.
So as I explained to my kids how I didn’t get anything for Christmas, I thought about it in the context of other things recently going on around me, and how the idea of not getting anything for Christmas is indeed such a blessing.
You see, this Christmas, I did not get news about headaches that are result of a brain tumor that requires surgery. I did not get more chemotherapy in an ongoing battle with cancer. This Christmas, I did not get reminded that I will not be sharing the holidays with a child that has passed away. This Christmas, I also did not get an ongoing dramatic saga with an ex-spouse that refuses to take ownership of her actions and act like a responsible adult. I look into my wife’s eyes and remember how this Christmas I was not giving an ongoing and aching tooth that’s required multiple visits to the dentist.
In the end, I look up to heaven and thank God for all the things He didn’t get me for Christmas. And that is the most blessed and humbling gift of all.