Friday, December 5, 2008

A More Meaningful Season

I love the idea of Christmas- stockings hung over our crackling fireplace, homemade ornaments of years gone by completing the wonder of our fresh cut tree. I love baking cookies (and eating them). I treasure my nativity scene collection, which details the handiwork of five continents, and which I add to every year from the Ten Thousand Villages Store at Bethany Beach. I adore watching the excitement in my children, on Christmas eve, as they thoughtfully create a plate of goodies to nourish Santa, and the glow in their eyes, in the morning, when their father escorts them, blindfolded, to the livingroom where their gifts await them.

But, I must also admit, that I'm becoming more and more dismayed by the reality of this season- the rushing around, the crowds and lines at stores, the purchase of meaningless gifts for people who we barely know or keep in touch with during the year, the debt.....I have thought many times that the secular holiday, which Christmas has become, should be made separate, somehow, from the celebration of Christ's birth- an association I can hardly identify with anymore for all of the commercialism we have succombed to.

We are, as in year's past, attempting to help our children understand the wealth of the lives they lead, as compared to others, by having them shop for and donate to a local agency which serves underprivelaged families. Today, after school, we'll be delivering items we purchased, along with those we solicited from Lily's Girl Scout Troop, to the South Hills Interfaith Ministry, an organization which allows parents to shop at low cost, from a room full of toys, for their kids, restoring in them the dignity of buying and giving the gifts to their loved ones themselves. But I feel, somehow, that we need to do more-that our participation in giving needs to be a greater gift of our time and efforts, rather than money. And for my children, as with most, there is still so much "me me me- i want, want, want," (which is normal) and not a lot of appreciation for what they have or for the basic needs of others who have so little. As a family, we truly have everything we need, and alot of what we want, and, because of this, Lily, Liam, and Benjamin have a harder time grasping the concept that they are the exception to the rule in this world, and that their time on this earth needs to be filled with serving more than getting.

The church I love (and from whom I've been delinquent too long now), The Church of the Open Door Pittsburgh, referenced this site- the Advent Conspiracy, in their newsletter. I will be pondering the ideas within its pages this weekend and thought you might find it interesting as well.

I'm wondering if any of you are feeling the same and what, if anything, you are changing about your traditions, to make Christmas a simpler yet spirit-filled holiday?


Bonnie said...

Judy, I just picked up a book from Barnes and Noble - - written by of all people "Blair" from the Facts of Life. I've been trying to incorporate it into our Advent season- so far, it seems to be going well......

Me said...

I found you through Blogher. What a great post! :) I was thinking similar thoughts earlier this week as my list of presents to buy grew and grew.

Every year I participate in food drives, donate more to charities and anything else that comes up. But a light bulb moment I had earlier in the week was, why not do this all year round where I can? It was a humbling thought. :)

dreamer said...

you seem to have a wonderful family. Im working on having such a family. You very seldom mention parents or in-laws....are they in your childrens life? i find that i cant possibly keep my family straightened out without my mom or mother-in-law helping us in so many different ways.are they a big help to you too?

Judy Sombar said...

My husband and i are blessed with a few but treasured family members who are incredibly supportive and encouraging to us on our parenting journey. We have learned, the hard way, to appreciate the gift of having people in our lives who are non-judgemental, trusting of our love of one another and our children, and who love us, without question, unconditionally. My parents are wonderful and are an integral part of our lives, though they live about five and a half hours from here, in the Washington, D.C. area. When I was ill last spring, they, without hesitation, lived with us for about three months, helping to care for my four children and our home, which was invaluable. My father-in-law is also a very special part of my children's lives, along with his wife, whom we see twice a year (they are out of state as well). I have mentioned all of them in a variety of posts, most recently in the one entitled "The Glass Castle." I must also mention that we are incredibly blessed by our close friends, who, though they are not linked to us by blood, love us and consider us family.

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Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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