Service by Vanessa

December 9th, 2009 in About Me

*This was posted at but we are taking the site down and I wanted to save it!

A couple of years ago I was beginning to notice that Christmas felt scarily empty. After waking up, tearing into our presents, dumping out our stockings and checking out what Santa left, it didn’t necessarily leave me all warm and fuzzy. I remember thinking, “Wait, in the movies everyone is smiling and looking so fulfilled.  What is wrong with me?!”  After looking at our piles of toys, movies, cooking gear and gift cards, I almost felt sick.  We didn’t need all that.  I felt as if I was going down the wrong path. I really didn’t want my daughters receiving all of this “stuff,” and I felt guilty thinking that way! Was it normal to want my daughters to get much less and still feel blessed and fulfilled? Instead of  helping my girls feeling appreciative and very blessed, I was feeling scared.  I was seeing greediness.  It was TOO much and, as the mother who was 99.9 % in charge of Christmas, it was my fault.

I wasn’t going to do it again.

I thought back to my favorite holiday celebrations and why they meant so much to me. The first year my husband and I were married, we celebrated Thanksgiving in a very different way. We put together Thanksgiving dinner for a homeless shelter.  Yes, a whole homeless shelter. I remember thinking I was way over my head, and who in the world would allow a 20 year old girl to be in charge of this? They must have been desperate. I hung signs at work and asked extended family members for help in donating food to the cause…a lot of food. It was a whirlwind.  I was stressed.  I was snippy and snappy with everyone around me, even while at the shelter.  And then I walked upstairs and saw an old man in a wheelchair waiting for his food.  His eyes lit up when I handed it to him.  It was “the look” you see in all of the holiday commercials- the face on a child opening the present he had been dreaming of or the look the woman gives the man when she opens a pair of diamond earrings. It was this look, this light in his eyes, but just a million times better because it was genuine.  It was pure joy and gratitude.

Christmas had to change at our house, and fast before my girls noticed it was ever different. I decided to cut back on presents and put a lot of thought into the ones we did decide to buy. Something to Wear, Something to Play With, Something to Read and a very small Something Pretty. That’s it. No more, no less from Santa.  Boy, does it cut down on the pressure! It keeps us within the budget! And my girls appreciate celebrations with LESS that means more.

The best part of all is that we are able to sponsor families for Sub for Santa since we spend less on ourselves. THIS is my favorite part of Christmas.  THIS is the feeling I was looking for. I love picking out clothing, books and toys for the children we have.  I spend hours thinking and searching for a gift I think they would love. My favorite Christmas gift was from last year.  A little 4 year old boy drew a picture for Santa with love. You could tell by the careful strokes and the way he carefully cut out the picture that he couldn’t wait for Christmas and he loved the Santa who was bringing him gifts. And that was us.

That is the feeling I had been looking for- service during the holidays is what was missing.


Tagged as: Service

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