My aunt and I were talking the other day and she mentioned that she does not give out Christmas gifts. In her opinion, Christmas is just one day, meant to mark the birth of Christ - not to shop and indulge each other with presents.
I have a friend with that same opinion. All through the year, she gives money and presents to her loved ones when she thinks they need something or when she just wants to convey her affection for them.
I am a Christmas shopper. I'm also on a super tight budget so this year I started my shopping way back in October. I stockpiled Christmas gifts by hunting down sales and other deals. I managed to stay within budget, plus I already have everything wrapped and ready for Christmas morning. And I've already got the bills paid down. (Okay, there is one exception to the ready gifts, but that's all on Ulta and their slow processing!)
Ever since the conversation with my aunt, I've been questioning my motivation in gift-giving. Why do I wait until Christmas (or birthdays) to do something special for people I care about? Why wait? Am I trying to fit in with consumer tradition?
I've decided that for the future, I'm giving up this kind of silly consumerism. From now on, I'm going to go with my heart. I think my friend has the right idea about giving to and blessing others. Christmas, birthdays, Valentine's Day, etc. are not the only days that people need to feel thought of. There are many times when I have gotten a nice card from my best friend, or some little gift, just because she knew I was in need of the extra attention. I want to be more like her. I want to be more alert to the moods and feelings of the people in my life.
So, I thought about all of this and then I thought of how it ties in with my motivations as a Christian.
I'm that Christian that doesn't attend church every time the doors are opened. I'm the Christian who sometimes isn't always very nice or patient or forgiving or... perfect. I'm a Christian who is truly saved by mercy and not by my works. And it's not that I don't want to be a better Christian. It's just that I am trying to be a more authentic person.
I know Christians who appear more Christ-like than I do. They are always in church, or they carry their Bibles everywhere. I know a couple of Christians who talked their faith all over their day jobs, but when it came time for them to be decent people in real-life situations, they were no better than the worst person on the street.
I guess I am making an early resolution. From now on, I am going to carry the spirit of Christmas and Christ with me in my daily life. I won't wait for a special occasion to give gifts or to be Christlike in my actions.
If I hadn't talked with my aunt, I might never have gone down this path of self-examination. Thank goodness that I have friends and loved ones who set such great examples for the rest of us.
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