Monday, 12 December 2016

Christmas--Are Too Many Good Ideas Getting in the Way of the Main Idea?

A bake sale for charity is a good idea. Parents being more involved at school is a good idea. Sponsoring a child through World Vision is a great idea. Christmas parties are good—the work party, the kids party, the work-kids party, the neighbor’s party—they are all great fun. Attending a steak night to raise money for Sally’s volunteer visit to an orphanage is a Peru, well, who can say no to that? Buying poinsettia’s from a school fundraiser only makes sense. Putting up Christmas decorations is a must. Getting a gift card for that helpful neighbor is the least you can do. Volunteering to help with the church Christmas concert seemed like a good idea at the time. A Tim Horton’s gift certificate for hard-working teachers, bus drivers, dance instructors, and sitters is a simple way to show your appreciation for the work they do all year. Setting a puzzle with your kids is a good idea. Reading EVERYDAY with them is a sure way to ensure their lifelong success--so is getting outdoors, remembering to take Vitamin D, and getting enough exercise. Hitting up an AWESOME Christmas sale is a smart way to save a bit of dough at a spendy time of year. Attending work everyday is a good idea, and while you’re there, why not organize a secret Santa exchange?! Not missing the kids’ dance classes, gymnastics, or piano recitals is a good idea. Attending my yoga class is a lifeline. Organizing the house makes everything else run a little smoother. Cooking a healthy meal is a good idea. So is sitting down and eating it while finding out about your kids’ day. A Christmas baking exchange is a good idea. Little O’s special school holiday charity event is so thoughtful! Delivering presents as a family to the local food bank is good idea. Cuddling up with a Christmas movie is a great idea. Writing Christmas cards is a great idea…

But you know what? Doing all of these things in one month? That is a BAD idea.

You know what the problem is with this world sometimes? TOO MANY GOOD IDEAS. With so many things to do that are helpful, philanthropic, fun, progressive, practical, healthy, kind, you name it—it is SO hard to say ‘No!’ Am I mistaken or is the whole point of the Christmas season not to spend some time connecting with dearest of loved ones? Because all these damn ‘good ideas’ are starting to get in the way of that.

The other day my 8 year old son and toddler daughter were crafting together at the kitchen table while I made supper. I was happy for the welcome time to zone out and get some work done while they entertained each other. After about 15 minutes, my son comes running into the room saying, “Mom, Mom, look what I made for Melea!” and he showed me his creation…

10 pages of paper stapled together each with a picture of a different mermaid/princess character of my toddler daughter’s request (ahem, demand) drawn on them in marker. Now this seems like a good enough idea, sweet of him to draw for her, but, honestly, he couldn’t have spent more than a minute on any of those drawings--a book full of half-assed ‘good ideas’ that would hit the recycling bin within a week. I kept this to myself, but I couldn’t help but wish he’d saved the paper and condensed his efforts into a more meaningful, singular creation into which he’d put more time and care! Something worth treasuring.

Poor kid, he comes by it honestly. His quantity over quality efforts are so reflective of my own, especially those I find myself making during the busy lead up to Christmas. Perhaps a singular charitable effort made as a family or community is just as effective (and perhaps more meaningful) than spreading ourselves thin over the 20 charitable opportunities that might present themselves in December. Maybe we need to let someone else have a turn running the Christmas concert or consider the worst case scenario if there is a hiatus with the office secret Santa exchange. Maybe we all need to just spare ourselves the efforts that inevitably end up in our energetic recycle bin, find a place to draw a line and say 'No' to rest of the ‘good ideas’ that come our way. Because it seems to me that if we cram too much into the season, we miss the chance to create much worth treasuring—namely time with the ones we love. Perhaps, all of these good ideas are getting in the way of the main idea?!