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© 2017 by Lauren Wiatrek - Austin, TX
 

These Aren't Your Oreos


Do you remember that scene in Finding Nemo with the seagulls all yelling, “Mine, mine, MINE!” I think of that scene every year around Christmas time, I cringe thinking of children behaving that way on Christmas morning tearing through gift after gift without an ounce of gratitude.

One of the most joyous times of year with perpetual hope is also one of the times when many are the most apt to put self before others... Why is that?

We have Thanksgiving which is when everyone posts their #30daygratitudechallenge and yet literally the day after (or now the day of) our stores are tricking us into thinking whatever we own is not good enough and we need to leave our cozy homes and families to camp out for more stuff? Hm.

I heard a story recently about a lady who was about to board an airplane and bought a bag of mini Oreos. She sat down waiting to board and there was a man next to her. The man proceeded to open the bag of Oreos and take one out and eat it with a big smile. The lady, horrified, gave him a ghastly look and grabbed an Oreo for herself. The man’s smile grew and they went back and forth taking an Oreo each until they came to the last one. He grabbed the last Oreo, smiled as big as he could, split it in half and tried to hand her one of the pieces of Oreo. The lady scoffed, and steaming with anger got up from her seat to board the plane. As she settled into her seat, she opened her bag and what did she pull out…but her bag of Oreos. All along the man with the big smile, was sharing HIS bag.

It makes me adjust my lens and remember we came into this world with nothing, and we will leave with nothing.

These Oreos, these houses, these cars, these clothes, these shoes, these THINGS…they do not belong to us.

They are not our Oreos.

Why do we get so easily caught up thinking all this is ours?

When you allow yourself to actually let the concept that all of this is not actually our stuff sink in, life is a whole lot more fun. It is like a weight is lifted. The true gift of giving becomes something you truly look forward to every single day. When we realize that all the stuff we have is actually God's given to us as a gift, it makes giving it a lot easier.

This Christmas I have been brainstorming on trying to figure out how to change the focus for my family. This year EVERY single commercial is targeted for my kids. (Thankfully we don’t have cable…that is a post for another day.) It is a difficult age to try and teach my kids that we don’t need to get excited about “stuff”… that a successful, blessed Christmas shouldn’t = how many gifts are pouring out from under the tree.

Am I right?

But teaching this concept in a world that just doesn’t live by that concept is h-a-r-d.

My kids know that we believe in the Reason for the Season…Joy to the World the Lord has come, let earth receive her King. This is very much the center of our family dynamic. However, my kids still think Santa and presents are a HUGE part of Christmas. My 5 year old’s Christmas list this year to Santa was incredibly long, and my heart sank. I want them to get it…but our culture doesn’t make that easy.

We have been talking about how we can give our PRESENCE versus our PRESENTS for Christmas.

Teaching them it isn’t about how much money you spend or how many things you get. It is about the heart. It is about being loving, kind, putting others needs before your own. Showing random acts of kindness to strangers, just because that is the right thing to do.

Two years ago, when I was knee deep in my stage 3 breast cancer journey, a local family business decided to adopt our family.

A week before Christmas they backed their F450 truck into our drive way and it was filled to the BRIM with wrapped gifts. I was blown away. They got my oldest a bike, they got my youngest a car seat we couldn’t manage to afford at the time, they got us a fire pit to enjoy our backyard, they brought firewood, they got me a massage because I couldn’t bear to ask for much. They even provided an organic Christmas dinner from Whole Foods because they understood I was in a sensitive state and needed the best quality nourishment that I could find.

This was a defining moment in my life. It forever changed me. It wasn’t about the stuff, it was about the act of kindness from a group of people who hardly knew us. They just knew we were having a hard time, and they wanted to help.

This year I am organizing a group of people to adopt another family going through their own cancer journey, to provide their Christmas so they can truly enjoy the season without stressing over finances.

This holiday season, try to think about your presence vs presents. Take baby steps to include your children on this. For our children, truly change the world.

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