Making Holidays special for all
After barely getting through the first Christmas with Ron in prison, I promised myself that my sons would have a lot of presents from then on. The next several years, I found myself looking for ways to get as many gifts as I could for my sons. I needed to keep buying things, keep signing up for the Christmas giveaways, and accepting every toy, game, book, puzzle, or other gift that people offered us. More stuff, more stuff!! The stuff was distracting me from the pain of Ron being in prison, and it made me feel like I was lessening the pain for my kids. The more they had to open, the less they would miss their Daddy… right? Wrong.
I was turning Christmas into a present opening marathon.
They stopped gasping for joy, being grateful for the gifts they got, and they began to see everything in their lives as replaceable. My boys started to disregard their possessions. Instead of taking care of the things they had as they used to, they just didn’t care what happened to it. As they swam in a sea of overindulgence, the toys and games piled up and became a big mess. They were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of things they opened, so nothing was special to them anymore.
What is Christmas about anyways?
I knew something had to change, knowing I had to stop suffocating them with things. I allowed them to acknowledge the empty chair at our table was a constant reminder that Daddy wasn’t home. It hurt, but Daddy being gone didn’t change mean we couldn’t celebrate Christmas and all it represents. I took the focus off of my sons, and put it back on Jesus where it belonged. And peace filled our hearts and our home. We still missed Ron, but Christmas wasn’t about Ron not being home, or how many gifts we got- it was about the humble beginning of a life that was later given for us. Jesus.
By Brandon Tijerina
When I was growing up, Christmas was one of the hardest times for me. I remember feeling empty, forgotten, and alone. I remember feeling so disappointed, thinking that Christmas should be a joyful time spending quality time with family – not celebrating with strangers in a prison.
Christmas is a hard time to be without Dad.
It is even harder when Dad is in prison. You do everything in your power to compensate for the absence of Dad in your children’s daily lives. This is actually damaging our children even more by sentencing our children to a life of feeling entitled and never satisfied.
It is so tempting to get our children as much as possible for Christmas. Having more stuff distracts you from the fact that your family is not together. But, the stuff will never, ever fill the void. Only Daddy can fill the void left behind when he went to prison. You may not even realize that in your search to make everything better, you are teaching your children to ignore their feelings and concentrate on acquiring stuff instead. They know the stuff isn’t fixing the problem, but they think they just need more stuff! So, they begin a journey of greed to fill the vast emptiness that cannot be filled with stuff.
Look up and take your family’s pain out of the center of attention. Put your family’s legacy front and center. Keep your faith at the center of Christmas and the gifts that money can buy become less important. Your kids are counting on you to set the culture for your family. Set one of moderation, gratefulness, and kindness. These gifts will last your children a lifetime!
I am rooting for you!