Two highway exits from home Thanksgiving night and we see the long line of cars snaking around to get into the parking lots of the shopping center. Justin and I have a short discussion about the most we’ve ever spent on Christmas. I inwardly pondered when I stopped caring whether I received presents or not. For the past few years I remember telling Justin that I don’t care if he doesn’t get me anything for Christmas, birthdays, etc. 98% of the time he doesn’t listen to me. He loves to give me things and I appreciate the care he puts into finding me something useful and from the heart. If he wants to get me something, that’s up to him, it just doesn’t change how I feel for him if he doesn’t.
To be able to buy Christmas presents for friends and family is a blessing that I have not always had, so I love getting the opportunity. But I don’t hate remembering the times I couldn’t afford it. It taught me how much I valued things more than I should, how I was lost at the idea of walking into my parent’s house with nothing more than a tin of baked goods. It felt strange at first, but it was still a beautiful day, wonderful time spent with family and friends. So, I couldn’t buy gifts at Christmas and the world didn’t end. It’s silly how often I try to fill the longing inside with stuff and more stuff. We were created with a longing spirit, a longing only satisfied with God’s presence in our lives.
I’m not writing this to preach to anyone about consumerism or greed or my distaste for Black Friday. I’ve been on my fair share of Black Friday adventures. I simply had a moment on Thanksgiving night. Minutes after seeing the lines of cars, we pulled off onto our exit. Sitting at the red light, a man came over and started washing our windshield. I never seem to carry cash on me, but Justin, thankfully, had some on him. He dug in his pockets and gave me $2 to hand to the man. He gave us the hugest smile, “Thank you! That was just what I needed.” He pointed at Justin and smiled and thanked us again before he was finished. Now, living in Austin, seeing someone on the street corner is pretty common, but my reaction to this man was not common for me. I sat there fighting back the tears as the stark contrast of the shopping center and this street corner sank in. He was so genuinely happy for the few dollars we gave him while cash registers were being filled beyond capacity for gifts that, in great part, will statistically be returned to that very store on Dec. 26 or forgotten by February. Again, don’t get me wrong, I fully plan on Christmas shopping soon, I’m a consumer too. It was just this brief moment in time where it was so clear, the want vs. need. It was a personal reminder of the need to be more responsible and compassionate with my money. Like a friend of mine who is asking that in lieu of gifts, her friends and family give to HELP’s Legacy Project or Justin giving 20% of his etsy sales to Russell and Elora’s adoption. Meeting God in our giving, longing momentarily satisfied.
On a related note, today is Generous Tuesday, so head on over to Pure Charity, set up an account and give back with the money you were already planning on spending this Christmas season and find a few things to give to while you’re there.