This is a great story from one of our newer believer in our church:
Aloha Pastor Chris,
I pray that this letter finds you doing well this week and surrounded with an abundance of aloha spirit. I am writing to tell you how excited I am to find out that my ohana is part of a conspiracy and did not even know it. You may recall that last CHRISTmas was our first one since we were saved and we wanted to honor our Father by celebrating the true meaning. What an amazing, educational life changing experience we ended up with.
My whole life Christmas was about presents and stressing out over getting everything done before everyone arrived. Last year after the combination of some life situations paired with God’s word at your sermons we made a drastic decision to NOT buy presents for our ohana. Now when you have five kids it truly is a drastic decision. Now the theme of my parenting has always been “Break the Cycle” and I decided this tradition will be one of those to break.
First, we started by going through every closet in our house gathering coats, blankets and clothes that we could give to someone in need. Although, I had just been laid off and money was is a hardship we recognized that we still have food on the table, we have a home to keep us safe and warm; but most of all we still have each other.
Next, we purchased an Interactive Nativity set to learn and understand the story Jesus’ birth. We now know and understand why each person is there and what happened to them. It is no longer just another Christmas decoration. The more we learned the more every single decoration, song and even card took a unique transformation because for the first time ever I saw and heard GOD in it all!
We then took the kids to the mall for the Angel tree. Each one picked an angel that was their same gender and age to buy a present for. They had to choose a gift that they wanted for themselves but had to hand it over to someone else that was less fortunate. No problem for the toddler, no problem for the teen-ager but a challenge for the 6 year old dinosaur fanatic who just found the ultimate dinosaur set. Jordan struggled with it and even tried to bargain with us but reluctantly handed it over to the lady at the Angel Tree. I think he left some fingernail marks on the packaging in the process. After it was all said and done Jordan gleamed with pride to all who knew his experience and that was a gift to me as his mother.
We did not have a lonely Christmas tree stripped of its gifts though. Each one of us sat down and wrote out a prayer for each family member. We took those prayers, wrapped them up and placed them under the tree for Christmas morning. We now had priceless gifts to present one another and did not have to wrestle anyone down in a store and acquire more debt for it. Even up to this point I still heard the enemy’s whispers in my ear. He wanted me to think that I was robbing my kids of gifts and that they would be embarrassed at school. He almost convinced me a couple of times but I stood firm.
Of course we plan to do this again this year and even take it up a notch with service to others. It pleases me to know that we are not alone in this and that it is being promoted throughout the Christian community. Our new Christmas tradition even has a name too, Advent. I pray that this spreads like a wild fire on a gusty day and we take back the meaning of Christmas. No more consuming to show love but truly showing love through actions and not materials. The video for Advent Christmas makes me smile uncontrollably because I know for myself what they are trying to say. Having presence with your ohana (FAMILY) on Christmas morning instead of presents creates emotions that cannot be explained it has to be lived.
In closing, I will answer to your challenge for this Advent CHRISTmas with a simple…. ‘A’ole pilikia (no trouble)
Blessed wishes & Mele Kalikimaka,