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(1)“I make a point to have everything planned that we’re going to do for the holidays in November, before we ever start,” Robin says. “And once we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, the decorating is done, the planning is done, and it just allows us to truly enjoy the month.”
(2)“I think people try to do too much,” Phil says. “First, they have unrealistic expectations. We all have this time-sealed memory of Christmas; we remember it like it was a Christmas card, with frost on the window, Budweiser sleigh going by with the Clydesdales and all of that, and we forgot that uncle Harry showed up and he was drunk and knocked the tree over.”
(3)“Don’t plan a 24-hour drive to see this family and a 13-hour drive to see this one. And the kids are living in the backseat, fussing and fighting. Don’t do it to yourself. Focus on your family of origin. Be with others if you can, but focus on your family of origin,” Phil says.
(4)“We always wanted the kids to know it wasn’t just about the holiday, but it was about family,” Robin says. “So I always made it a habit to never put a gift under the tree until Christmas Eve because I didn’t want them to come in every day and see if I added any gifts. I just didn’t want it to be all about the gifts.”
(5)“Particularly this year, we’re in a difficult
economy, and parents aren’t going to be able to
do what they’ve done in years past,” Phil says.
“It’s a teachable moment in these kids’ lives. Kids
need to understand that every Christmas doesn’t
have to be bigger than the last Christmas. And
it’s important to let the children know this is not
something we are doing to you; it’s something
that we’re all doing together. Let’s focus on things
that are more meaningful.”
Robin Shares about Her Special Tradition
If there’s anything better than giving, it’s giving anonymously and leaving people surprises!
When we lived in Wichita Falls [Texas], Phillip had an office in town. There was an alleyway behind the building where he parked. Every day when he went in to work, there was a woman playing with a little boy out in the alley. They’d scurry away when the cars rolled in. One day as Christmas was drawing close, Phillip stopped the young boy and asked him when he was going to put up his Christmas tree. The boy explained that his mom couldn’t afford one and that they weren’t going to put one up this year.
Then Phillip asked, “What do you want for Christmas this year?” He had no answer.
So we arranged to send the boy and his aunt and mother out for pizza one day. While they were away, we got to work! We set up a tree, decorated it, put up flashing twinkle lights, and left all kinds of goodies for the aunt and mother. Then we picked up a bunch of Dallas Cowboys memorabilia for the boy and left a ham on the table. We rushed out to wait for their return. We could see the Christmas lights from Phillip’s office; we were so excited! As they walked up, the little boy started yelling, “Mommy, look at the lights! The lights!” The excitement was thrilling. Making a difference in a stranger’s life is fulfilling in a way that touches your soul. The core of our joy is always about the children. Anytime you can touch the life of a child, you take part in changing the world.
I know how tight money can be, especially around the holidays, but sacrificing to help others will pay off big rewards of inner gratification. One thing I suggest is for families to “adopt” another family for Christmas. You can do this through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, or even through your local social services. Pick a family similar to your own and get your kids involved. For example, if you have a boy and a girl, maybe adopt a family with a boy and girl. Involve the kids in the shopping and let them help pick out gifts for the family. This involvement makes the experience really personal for them. Adopting a family is one Christmas tradition that will never get old.