From as far back as I can remember in my childhood, I lived for Christmas, where I could load up on gifts and food.
My focus was not on seeing family or learning about Jesus. My focus was on me. And checking to see if my sisters got something I wanted instead.
My parents worked hard to make sure that we had a good Christmas. A typical Christmas meant that we got about 7 or 8 presents each on Christmas Eve from Mom and Dad. Then when we woke up Christmas morning, we each got about 7 or 8 more gifts from Santa. Santa normally brought the expensive gifts.
We lived in a nice community on the lake in a modest brick home. We were a good-looking family. We were smart kids. We were athletic kids.
And, yet, even though our fleshly cup was running over, our spiritual cup was leaking. Christmas, like the other 364, was not Christ-centered.
Every Christmas was so stressful at home. Dad was so stressed out about making sure everything went well that he would inevitably be so touchy, and the evening wasn’t complete until somebody was crying. I am 34 years old, and it is still this way. Sadly, I do not look forward to Christmas at my dad’s.
This summer (2011) we sold our home, gave most of our possessions away, and now we live in an RV so that we can be available to follow God’s will for our lives. My dad doesn’t understand that. He’s worked hard his whole life to have a house, to have whatever he wants. We don’t care about hunting as a sport or about sports in general. We homeschool. We support our church financially. We rely on God to provide. My husband does have a job, and we are self-sustained, but he is a prison chaplain. He’s not working for the money.
When I spoke to my dad this morning, he asked what the kids wanted for Christmas. I told him that my children haven’t asked for anything for Christmas. They are happy with what they have. I also told him that we have already given our children their “Christmas” presents. A bit unusual, but we won’t even be home Christmas weekend, and we live three hours away from where we will be going. The conversation went like this:
Dad: “So December 25th will just be another morning to sleep in?”
Me: “Well, we don’t feel that we have to wait until December 25th to bless our children with gifts.”
Dad: Long pause
Me: “I loved Christmas growing up, and I appreciate everything you did for us. It was wonderful. We just raise our children differently. We are still happy. Just different.”
Dad: “What do you and Jimmy want?”
Me: “Nothing. Just spend it all on the kids.”
Dad.: “I’ll get y’all giftcards and you can spend that on the kids.”
Me: “That would be great.”
Dad: “I have to hang up. This is stressing me out.”
Me: “It could be worse. Jimmy’s mom has Alzheimer’s and the last time he talked to her she accused him of just having left her house and stolen all of her husband’s guns. He doesn’t even know if she’ll recognize him at Christmas.”
Dad: “Gotta go.”
And I’m not exaggerating. That was pretty much the conversation verbatim. Then I hung up and cried and wished my husband was home so I would have at least had somebody to cry on.
We do not deprive our children. We have a playstation, we have internet, we watch cartoons, they have DSs, I bake and cook from scratch, we stay up late if we want, we play board games together, we have fun. They have a great life! They love us, and we have a very close family. My husband would rather be home with us than anywhere else in the world. If he goes hunting, it is to put food on the table. He thinks adult sports are a ridiculous waste of time. He does not try to live vicariously through his children.
When I told my dad two years ago that we told our children that Santa was not real, he was extremely upset at me. He, as my dad, taught me not to lie. I asked my 9 year old son the other day if he would rather us have raised him to believe in Santa and he said no. He also has the option of going to public school. He says, “Why would I want to do that?”
So, yes, we are different than the rest of the world. We are a happy and healthy family that is ecstatic about our unmaterialistic lifestyle.
His own dad never told him he loved him. My dad made sure that he told us he loved us every day, at least once. My dad had to go to work at a young age to fill the gap. If he wanted something, he had to work for it. He made sure that we could focus on our education. And I am thankful, really and truly thankful, for everything he instilled in us and everything he gave us. But I would rather have had peace in our home. I would trade it all in exchange for having been a happy, peace-loving family.
My ideal family Christmas would be for us to get together and there not be any alcohol or drugs there. To have the TV either turned off or at the very least not be on a show that is about sports, hunting, or filled with lewdness. I don’t want to feel the pressure of having to buy everybody something when my husband and I aren’t even buying each other anything. I would love for us to get together and nobody cry and argue.
Those are the kind of Christmases that take place at the Martin house. That is the family tradition that we are intent on establishing. One that is focused on Jesus and on family.
Note: I’m not perfect. I write my true feelings. I am still learning to be the woman God wants me to be. And I firmly believe in this: there are three sides to every story. This is my blog. Therefore, I am writing from my personal viewpoint and how things in my life have effected me.