Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Oh those happy holidays, and the tantrums in between!

I love the holidays.  I always have, and I always will.  I love the smell of fresh pine in the air, the lights that glitter in the night, and the feeling of getting just the right gift for someone special. I also love the opportunity to spend time with loved ones and the compassion people show towards one another when they normally might not. Now that Mikaiah is getting older it thrills me beyond belief that she too loves and anticipates all these things as well, the lights, the trees, and the family traditions.  It literally brings a huge smile to my face (and to Seth as well, though I think it's a bit of an ironic smile because he does not at all get caught up in this stuff, though I do think he enjoys that we do.)   I am a gift giver, and this is my favorite season.  I just love it. With Christmas only two days away (two days!) and with the gifts purchased and the house decorated (the house meaning this beautiful old farm house that we are house sitting in until January, and thoroughly enjoying!)  I am in my element and loving it!
    However, there is one part of this season that I don't particularly enjoy however, in truth I despise it.  It comes in many forms and disguises, but it has one name...greed.  We can call it materialism, or the "giveme's," or a million different things, but greed is what it really comes down to.  Earlier this month we went away for the weekend with Seth's family and celebrated an early Christmas, like we do every year.  While we were away both my girls spent hours playing with these little Disney princess magiclip dolls that my mother in law has.  They absolutely loved them, and played so well with them that Seth and I both agreed they would be a great gift.  Now Seth and I have very purposefully not bought any Disney things in the past.  We are not at all anti-Disney, our daughter is as in love with the movie Frozen (which is the only Disney thing we own) as any other girl, but we get a little disgusted by all the paraphernalia and commercialism that seems to accompany it. After talking about it however, we decided to make this exception.  There was one problem however, we are not the only ones seeking this particular toy.  They had a set of 8 of these dolls earlier in the season at Costco for $20, an amazing deal since they are typically $5.98 or more a piece, but by the time we decided to get them they were long gone.  Since we could not get them all we thought we would just get the Elsa and Anna dolls, but these too were elusive and sold out everywhere I went.  Then this past week as the girls and I were checking out our groceries at Fred Meyer Mikaiah bent down and there next to the magazines and candy bars were both dolls!  She showed them to me and asked to buy them, and not wanting to lose the opportunity, but also not wanting to let her know why I was getting them, I fibbed.  I said "Why don't we get them for Elowen for Christmas?!?"  (This was a mistake, but it was what I said in the moment, so I had to go with it.) We had already finished checking out, but did another transaction and purchased the dolls, while only moments after we had done so the tantrum began.  Mikaiah is not given to tantrums or huge fits in genereal, but this day she truly outdid herself. She began screaming and yelling, begging and crying to have the "Anna" doll (this means Elsa, she is thoroughly convinced that Elsa is Anna and Anna is Elsa, and that Seth and I are just plain WRONG) for herself.  Furthermore she was adamant that Elowen would NOT get it, she wanted it.  She would not be calmed.  I stood there next to my cart with this screaming child for 5 minutes trying to get her to calm down so that I could go home with my long sought after gift.  I knew how much she wanted these dolls, and I wanted to get them for her maybe even more than she wanted them herself.  I pleaded with her, but to no avail.  I looked at her in the midst of this fit and knew what I needed to do, though it really truly pained me (still pains me as I think of it) to do it, and I slowly turned towards the customer service counting with my screaming child in tow.  (Praise the Lord that he knows how much we can handle and only gives us that much, as Sequoia contentedly sat in the Ergo carrier on my back observing it all.  I waited in line hoping Mikaiah would turn a corner and we could leave, but as my turn approached and the fit continued I walked forward and returned these two dolls that I longed to give to my daughter.  As the clerk handed me my money back she looked at me and told me I was doing the right thing even though it was hard.  It was encouraging to hear, and I knew she was right, just as I had already known, but it didn't make it any easier.  The fit continued as we made our way out to the car, the wind and rain slapping me in the face as I buckled the girls in their carseats.  As the storm continued to rage inside my car (I closed the doors and stood outside the car for a good 5 minutes, and called my good friend Evie for support - thank you Lord for giving me such amazing friends) I thought to myself that this is how the Lord must feel when he longs to give us gifts that we can't calm down enough or get over ourselves enough to be ready to accept.  We can get so focused on what we want that that it becomes our sole focus, and for our own good he can't even give it to us.  Over the next hour as I finished up errands (painfully as Mikaiah's tantrum contined the entire time) I pondered this even more, and was brought to mind all the ways that I myself can get consumed with greed.  I don't think of it that way, I think of it as the things that we "need" or could really use or enjoy, but it's still there.  A self-centered mind not focused on what the Lord is asking me to do, or who he is asking me to serve but simply consumed with myself and my own family.  I repented of this, this is not how I want to live, or how I want to teach my children to live.  And so as the Christmas season continues, and on into this next year I am trying to focus on what the Lord is asking me to do and what he is saying to me and not focus so much on what I want myself.  How can I even begin to teach my own children about selflessness and serving the Lord when I am not showing this to them in my everyday life?  I conclude that I cannot.  So while I am still sad about this situation, and still want to get this special gift for my daughter (though she will NOT be receiving it for Christmas...we will have to see about her Birthday, you never know) I am grateful for the reminder it has been to myself.  In a season that is torn between complete self-centeredness and celebrating the simple most selfless act in the history of the world (the gift of Jesus, sent to this earth to sacrifice himself for us) at least I have remembered which side I am on.

1 comment:

Hiker said...

Wow! That was a "teachable moment" and you really did the right thing. Not easy but the right thing. Mikaiah, whether she realizes it or not now undoubtedly learned something valuable from you that day.
You are a great mom!