This year we decided to do something a little different for Christmas. Usually Nevin takes the boys out one at a time to buy gifts for each other and me, and I take the boys out (en masse) to buy gifts for Nevin. This has worked well for a few years, but we still find ourselves with a lot of gifts that are nice, but really, we don't need.
Actually, we don't NEED anything. We have more than everything we need - and we have pretty much everything we could possibly want as well.
But there are so many in the world who don't even have clean water, a way to support themselves, or even a Bible. So this year, we cut back quite a bit. We asked each boy what one thing they would really like. We got them each that one thing, and then we picked out a smaller item as well, and another small gift and some candy for the stocking. We did not buy anything for each other (okay, Nevin did get me a box of chocolates, he knows the ways to keep me happy!). The boys did not select anything for us or each other.
Instead, on Christmas Eve, we looked at the Christmas Catalog put out by Gospel for Asia. Nevin checked into their ministry, and read the book Revolution in World Missions by K. P. Yohannan
(note - this is the book that has been handed out for free at The Greater St. Louis Homeschool Expo the last few years - and is available free at GFA's website). One of the things that is different about this ministry is that the missionaries are not people sent to India from the United States or Europe - they are indigenous people, who have been discipled and trained to carry the gospel to their own countrymen. They are also ministering to some of the poorest of the poor in the world. Where $10 in our home will buy a small Lego set (that Ben can assemble in about 5 minutes), through Gospel for Asia it can buy a mosquito net, to protect a child from the biting insects that carry malaria.
With the kids, we looked all through the online catalog, and asked them what they would like to buy with their own money. This is a new twist, also, because in the past they have "selected" gifts for the brothers and parents, which we then paid for. This time, they were using their own money. They kicked in $10-11 each ( the equivalent of two weeks' allowance for Tony and Ben, but 10 weeks' for Joe and Henry). Nevin and I also put in what we would have spent on each other. Together, for relatively little money, our family bought a pair of chicks, a pair of rabbits, a mosquito net, gospel tracts, VBS materials, a tool kit and a bicycle for a missionary. Life-changing things for these people, with money that would have gone for nice, but unneccessary, items for ourselves.
This is not to toot our own horn, by the way - I want to share this because it was so easy, and yet so worthwhile. So often we look for ways to help, ways to support missions (if you don't go yourself, you need to support those who do), we have a desire to do "something", but that "something" can be elusive. This was something that anyone can do - it is a good start.
Nevin and I have been reading Radical by David Platt, and it is really giving us pause, and causing us to re-think what is important. What is enough.
What is too much.
But more on that later. For now, Merry Christmas. The traditional pictures of our over-indulged children will be posted tomorrow. For today, we will bask in the glow of the day, prepare a Taco Fiesta for dinner, and a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting to celebrate the birth of Christ.