Tuesday, January 3, 2012
A couple weeks ago I ran across an article by Rick Howerton called, "Three Gifts Every Leader Should Give Their Family for Christmas." Here's a link to the article:
I already knew what he was going to talk about, and probably knew what he was going to say before he said it...more of my time, yada yada yada...family worship time, yada yada yada, and more of my time doing stuff with the family that didn't revolve around church, yada yada yada. I knew about all of that stuff already, and was doing a pretty fair job with it...so I thought.
Pre-Christmas season, or Advent, is uber-crazy around my place...just like I'm sure it is around yours. This year we also threw an open house at the parsonage into the mix, which I think was the first time we had ever done that, and which I know added to the already uber-craziness.
But...once the gifts had all been wrapped, the menu had been prepared, dinner had been had with Steph's family and with mine...once the lights had been turned off Christmas Eve, after gifts opened Christmas morning, the star had been followed, the babe had been swaddled and adored, and after worship had been led Christmas Day...it was time to crash.
I had planned to leave for a mission trip the day after Christmas like I have done in the past, but this time the weather didn't cooperate and the trip was postponed, which left me asking as I kicked back in my recliner Christmas afternoon..."What am I going to do now?"
I still had vacation days left and that's a good week to burn some of them up, so when we got up Monday morning, I said this to my bride of nearly 19 years: "I'm going to give you something for Christmas that I have never given you before. I'm going to take you and the girls to the mall and shop with them...all...day...long. A whole day of my undivided attention...at...the...mall." Yes, Virginia, there is a crazy man standing there.
We told the girls to gather up their gift cards and Christmas cash (cha-ching), then we all climbed into the 4 door sleigh, and headed to the mall. Had I lost my mind? What the hell was I thinking? It was the day after Christmas, for Pete's sake, and I was taking my brood to the epicenter of commercialism?
The crowds were just as bad as I expected. We actually did get to park on mall property...barely. Lines were long. Stores were packed. But my wife and two daughters had...a...ball (at the mall).
As I watched them, something in me began to change. I actually began to relax (and no, there was no alcohol involved). I noticed that I stopped standing out in the mall as much and actually started going into the stores with them more. I began to smile as I watched my daughters flit from one clothing rack to another, knowing they only had X number of dollars to spend, and that they had to spend it wisely.
I sat down with them and had a soft pretzel and a coke (Have you ever had one of those things? O...M...G...they are good.) I noticed that I began to notice the crowd less, and that my feet weren't hurting as much, and that I wasn't nearly as mad at the other mallers as I thought I'd be.
And then...9 hours, that's right folks, 9 hours later, we loaded back into the Explorer, Steph looked at me and said, "Thank you."
I've given her a lot of stuff for Christmas over the last 23 years, and more than likely, she doesn't remember much of it. I know that I don't. But this year, I gave her more of me.
I think the Lee clan started a new holiday tradition this year. Next year, I'm going to take the whole week after Christmas off. I'm not going to plan on going on a mission trip. I'm not going to go into the office. The band will be practiced up before Christmas...and I'm going to be, once again, a mall dad. It was actually fun.
I noticed something else this Christmas break. When all of my girls went back to school yesterday, I didn't do my happy dance like I used to. I actually hated to see them go back.
May your days of Christmas help you see what is really important. This year mine did.