Thursday, December 17, 2009

Are You Content?

A sermon entitled The Freedom of Enough had just ended when Graham turned to me and asked, "Mom, do you think I am content?"

content /kuhn tent/ -adj. 1. satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.

Graham's greatest thrill this Christmas season has been going through the World Vision Gift Catalog and helping us to choose "gift" donations for some of our loved ones. He has not asked for a single thing for himself. Not one thing.

Back when our boys were just preschoolers, we adopted a Christmas gift-giving idea that I read about in Family Fun magazine. The author of the article suggested that each family member receive just three gifts--to represent the three gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus.
  1. The "gold" is an item that the recipient wants (something he or she would greatly treasure, such as a toy or gadget!);
  2. The "myrrh" is an item that the recipient needs (something he or she would greatly use, such as snow boots or a back pack);
  3. And, the "frankincense" is something for the whole family to enjoy together (something in which everyone can participate, such as a board game or movie tickets).
Three gifts. Period. We have been doing this for years and it brings such a wonderful simplicity to our holiday season. Before we started the "three gifts" tradition, I NEVER felt like my shopping was finished. Back in those days I still used credit cards, and I didn't have a clue about the concept of "enough." Now I must be very careful about what I choose for each of my boys. Intentional. Deliberate. Thoughtful. And the boys are truly grateful for whatever they get. They are content.

But then about 6 years ago we added another twist. We decided that every third year we would skip the gifts altogether and take a trip instead. This year-2009-is a travel year, and we will be spending our Christmas in Montana, skiing and visiting family. The travel Christmases are the ones that we enjoy the most! We still put up a tree, watch Christmas movies, bake goodies, and sing carols. None of us feel like we have skipped Christmas when we skip the gifts. It is every bit as joy-filled and fun! Can you imagine a Christmas without the stress of shopping? A Christmas without wish-lists? A Christmas that is focused on memory-making adventures and eternal relationships instead of stuff? Stuff, that--no matter how cherished--will one day end up in a land-fill.

Giving is a wonderful thing. Please do not think that I am against giving in any way. Our Jesus is a lavish gift giver, and as His spirit lives in us, we can't help but love to give good gifts to others. But I want our family to spend the Christmas season with an attitude of gratitude. I want Christmas to be a time of thankfulness for Jesus--whose grace is sufficient for me. HE is enough. HE is my portion. HE satisfies all my desires.

"Mom, do you think I am content?"

"Yes, Graham. I think you are very content."

I hope the same could be said for me.

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