Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm Making a List and Checking it Twice by Trish Berg

I truly think Santa had it right with the list making thing. I started years ago, making a Christmas gift buying list. I do it in Excel, with each person I am buying for in the left hand column, and then start with each cell to the right with ideas for gifts for them, and if I can, prices in the next column over.

I can then add the price column total at the bottom and see where I am spending wise. Then I can go back up and adjust my shopping list as needed to make sure that I stay within my budget.

And when a gift is bought then I check it off, and subtract it from what I have spent, so I know what I have left yet to spend.

Christmas shopping can truly get out of hand if you are not careful. We convince ourselves that this gift will make that person happy, and in turn, make us feel good about ourselves. When the reality is that over-spening on Christmas will only create self-absorbed and self centered children, and a feeling of disappointment when otherts don't react how we want them to when they open their gift.

For example, one Christmas about 15 years back, I was working way too hard to make my sisters-in-law like me. My husband, Mike, was an only son with 3 sisters, and I thought I could buy my way into their friendship circle. Sounds stupid now, but hey, I was desperate back then.

So, at a local craft show, I bought my sister-in-law, Lisa, the most beautiful and extremely expensive Christmas gift. It was a snowman pitcher with 6 matching mugs. It was ceramic, hand crafted, and gorgeous. It was the kind of gift set I would have loved to have had myself.

It cost well over $80, and we were only supposed to spend $30-40. Yep, overspent to try to find joy and friendship.

So, Christmas Eve, my grandmother-in-law handed out her gifts to everyone, and she gave Lisa this antique Santa ceramic pitcher set with matching mugs that Lisa had grown up with. Kind of like a piece of her childhood.

Now, Grandma had no idea that I had made that purchase, or that I was giving Lisa a snowman pitcher and mug set. So, as Lisa oood and cooed over the Santa set, my heart broke.

I went home and cried for hours. Wasted tears, you see. I set myself up for failure in overspending. Over reaching.

Christmas morning, I did give Lisa the snowman set, and she thanked me. I think she liked it, but it was most certainly not magical. And it did not buy her friendship.

Lisa and I have become friends because we have taken the time to get to know each other, not because of any gift we bought one another.If I had only known or realized that back then, I could have saved the $80, or graced my own counter with the snowman pitcher set.

So, as you begin your Christmas shopping, don't look for gifts to fill the holes in your life. Give gifts that are well within your budget that will make people smile. But don;t seek joy there. Simply give out of love, and let that be that.

Seek your joy in the baby in the manger. In the gift that was given to us all and the everlasting life we have in Christ.

And make lists. Stick to them, and know that 5 years form now, you probably won;t remember the gifts you gave or received. But you will remember who you spent time with.

Enjoy the journey-Trish Berg

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