“Mom, what do you want for Christmas?” was the question both sons seemed equally concerned for me to answer.
Each day they asked the same thing, and each day I returned the same answer, “For all of us to be home together enjoying each other’s company.”
“Mo-om!” came their exasperated response.
“What? That’s really what I want. And you don’t even have to wrap it!” I smiled.
Their teenaged minds had a hard time grasping that in our materialistic society, the last thing I wanted was more material goods that would soon go out of style or I would have to care for or store.
Sure, I remembered the years a very long time ago when my peers and I would spend hours practically drooling over the toy catalog and making our dream list of wishes and wants. Nowadays they save paper and search online and send their lists electronically via email, but the lists are no shorter and no less costly on the pocket book, but also no less intrinsically fulfilling.
Somehow as we age, and as we survive some of life’s more treacherous bumps, bruises and narrow misses, we come to appreciate what really matters that can’t be packaged with a bow under even the most beautiful of trees.
We cannot always choose our circumstances in life, but we can choose our reaction to them.
Paul certainly was an example of this when he shared his ability to be content in his situation. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
He always encouraged that despite the situations we find ourselves, still, we should rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
In Scripture we are encouraged to be thankful for all things. “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) That’s a tall order, to be sure, but one that lends such a healthy perspective when the world in which we live always baits us to want more, do more, and achieve more. Being thankful in all circumstances is a key to contentment.
As I prepare for the holiday celebrations with family, I’m reminded of all I already have, for which I’m thankful.
1. While I confess that mopping floors and dusting don’t make it very high on my list of preferred tasks, they remind me to be thankful for the safe home in which I live.
2. Even scrubbing toilets fosters gratitude for the indoor plumbing we appreciate every day.
3. When I scour pots and pans, and wash the dinner dishes, I give thanks that we have more than enough food to eat.
4. As I sweep the floor to clean up the crumbs beneath the table, I am thankful for the memories of the meals we enjoy gathered there as a family.
5. Grocery shopping is one of my less preferred errands, but even that brings about a spirit of gratitude when I realize that it signifies God’s provision for our needs.
6. Standing outside in the brisk morning air to pump gasoline into my car prompts me to be thankful for our automobiles which afford us the opportunity to work, get to school, and run errands with ease.
7. Last minute school projects with a frantic, “Mom, I need…” mean I can thank God that my children are getting an education.
8. Even the sound of my teens’ “playful” bickering in the other room, encourages my heart to whisper a prayer of thanksgiving that God has given me children to love and enjoy.
9. While I have often complained in the past, the sound of my husband’s snoring now brings thanksgiving to my heart for it means he is still alive when doctor’s predicted cancer would take his life on more than one occasion.
10. Even my own aches and pains that at times have brought me to tears are a reason for thanksgiving, because they signify God has given me yet another day to live with Him and my family.
When I consider that list, it’s really hard to think of anything else I could possibly need. To think that there are so many even in our own country who are in want of some of these basic things means we are incredibly blessed.
More material goods will spoil, break, go out of style, or need time and space to be cared for, while time together will always be cherished within the heart.
When that is what you desire, it’s much easier to be content.
Wishing you a content Christmas.
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Smiling over your example of gratitude while grocery shopping. I have to practice this discipline every time I step into a store for that much-despised task.
And recently I’ve been reading The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Puritan author Jeremiah Burroughs. It’s been so helpful (and challenging!).
It definitely is a choice in how we frame our responses to life. I don’t like clutter, so what I’d like for Christmas is LESS stuff, not more. lol. But I am grateful for the things that I have. We are very blessed. Have a wonderful Christmas, Michelle!
No gag gifts or ugly sweaters, I’ll wear the make up and perfume, I’m still surprised that families know so little about each other or is it just mine? I too, would love a peaceful time, cookies and milk or tea and lunch, cake and coffee. These moments are priceless. Merry Christmas.
This is so good. I love your thankful list for small things. Saving it and sharing it. Merry Christmas to you!
I will not look at scrubbing toilets, mopping or dusting again. You took the fun out of complaining about it. : ) Thanks for the reminder of things we should be grateful for.
Michelle, this is such a great reminder of what is important. I had such a hard time thinking of a gift for my 14-year old son. When I asked him what he wanted, he responded with “I don’t know”. However, over the few weeks leading up to Christmas, I noticed that one thing he consistently thanked God for during family prayer time was ‘family time’. So, I made him special date night tickets for 2018. He loved it. Thanks for sharing on Grace and Truth!