Christmas Shopping

Last night I did something I never do this late in the season…I went Christmas shopping. I take pride in the fact that I’m done shopping weeks before Christmas day arrives. I’m not knocking those who shop that close to Christmas. I just know myself and I’m not a cheerful shopper when among the masses. And I really hate standing in lines, so I try to stay away from the stores when Christmas is this close.

However, due to circumstances that could not be avoided, I was one gift short for my nephew. So I braved Target, found the gift and left the store with a cart full of groceries and other necessities… only to arrive home and realize that the gift I picked out for my nephew was not in my possession. And here’s the funny (but not funny at the time) part. When I looked at my receipt, it became clear that I did not even purchase the gift!!

To say I was frustrated is an understatement. You can imagine the steam rising off me at this point as my husband laughs and asks, “Are you sure you picked out a gift?”

He almost got slapped…

Finally I realized what happened. The lady in front of me had the conveyer belt 95% full. So I loaded what I could onto the remaining 5% and put my nephew’s gift on the sliver part….the part that doesn’t move. Now here’s what gets me. There were PLENTY of people behind me. I would like to think that one of them would have said, “Hey, is this yours?” After all, everyone’s eyes are on that belt as they all anxiously wait to unload their items! And keep in mind, this one toy is the ONLY reason I went to Target in the first place!!

So with a pout and stomp, I make a trip back to my not-so-favorite-place-right-now, and my gift has either been purchased by someone else who waited in that line (you’re welcome if that was you) or it’s already been shuffled back to the toy section by an employee. Either scenario, I made my way to the back of the store, found my chosen item, and waited in another line.

While I lingered in line, it dawned on me that I had only purchased two stocking stuffers for Gideon and many more for Laynie. As I stood in line thinking about what I could get for my legally blind & partially deaf son, I remembered Gideon’s therapist telling me she got a lot of their vision therapy toys at the dollar store. So since I was out and about anyways, I made a trip to the place where everything is a dollar.

Since Gideon has light perception, I found a light up disco ball and a red police light (the kind that was manually placed on police cars back in the old days). I also found some light up toys that were soft…which is important, since my son hits himself with every object he holds. There were lots of great things for the visually impaired, but I couldn’t find anything that worked for his auditory impairment. And then I remembered a conversation my sister and dad jokingly had about dog toys. Those toys are usually loud AND soft! So with no luck in the toy section, I reluctantly made my way to the pet aisle.

Now let’s be clear about one thing. Spending $1 on a Christmas toy doesn’t bother me. As long as the child who receives it enjoys it… price doesn’t matter. What bothered me as I stood for what seemed like hours in front of these pet toys is that they were made & intended for animals. And my son is obviously not an animal.

With an unenthusiastic heart, I purchased several dog toys, thanked the cashier, and cried the whole way home. Looking back, I’m not even sure what I was so upset about. Maybe it was the fact that my son deserves better than dog toys. Maybe it was the knowledge that buying gifts for him to enjoy will always remind me that he’s different than other kids. Or maybe it was the reality that Gideon’s diagnosis is real. No matter the reason for tears, the unfortunate truth is that Gideon’s experience of Christmas will always be different from other children’s experience.

I guess I’m learning that Christmas, like every other holiday season, will always require thinking outside the box. And you know what? That’s ok. In fact, that loud-squeaky-lamb-looking dog toy will probably be his most favorite item to play with for two reasons. 1- It won’t hurt him when he bangs himself with it; and 2- He’ll hear it…and so will the rest of our neighborhood.

“So what’s the big lesson here?” I asked God as I laid myself down to sleep last night. While I didn’t get an audible answer, I believe He brought this question to my mind…

“Do you think baby Jesus enjoyed the gold, frankincense and myrrh on His first Christmas?”

As a former teacher, I’m guilty of answering questions with more questions. Doing so provokes further thought and self discovery. I believe God did just that for me.

As I thought about baby Jesus on that first Christmas, I imagine he just enjoyed what every baby enjoys… being loved, held, fed, and changed. He didn’t care about the gold, frankincense and myrrh; he just loved being with his mom and dad. It’s not really that profound when you think about it. We all know this but Christmas is about being with the ones you love and celebrating the One who forever changed the course of our eternity.

So as tomorrow approaches remember this- the toys and gifts we stressed about shopping for will probably be dusty & forgotten, exchanged or tossed in the trash. But more than 2000 years ago, God gave us a gift that will never be forgotten, nor will we ever need to exchange or toss it. If we can keep in mind we’re celebrating HIM and not us, then the fact that I bought my 11 month old son a dog toy doesn’t matter. It’s the love we share that counts.

So with that thought in mind, I hope you’ll join me & put all the Christmas shopping stress behind you. I hope your Christmas day is full of love, laughter, and Jesus. What better gift can we share than Him?

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16

Merry Christmas!

14 thoughts on “Christmas Shopping

  1. Thank you for another beautiful post- you are a talented writer and your honesty is inspiring. On this Christmas Eve I am grateful that you have chosen to share your journey. You’ve made a difference in my life and we’ve never met. I hope tomorrow morning is magical for your children and you enjoy the looks on their faces as they discover their new gifts. I think the amount of thought you put into Gideon’s stocking stuffers shows how in tune you are with your son and how deeply you care about him. I bet Gideon will love the toys and he will for sure sense the love Christmas brings to his family.

    1. Elizabeth, thank you so much for your kind words. I am grateful for your support and encouragement. It blesses me to know our journey has been special to others. I really do think Gideon will love the dog toys best. It’s funny how one Christmas can be unlike any others we’ve had before. I hope you and your family have an amazing day tomorrow. I know we will! 🙂 Merry Christmas!!

  2. Sam,
    Merry Christmas! Give Kevin a hug from the Hardin clan. And drown those sweet kids of yours in kisses. You are such an inspiration. You guys may feel like you are muddling through this–but you are doing such a beautiful job! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. Melissa, I will do all those things!! Thank you so much for your encouragement and thanks for taking the time to read and message me! Y’all have Merry Christmas too! 🙂

  3. Merry Christmas!!! We just had our christmas today and it’s always so much fun watching the kids open their presents. My little Brecken though was so hard to shop for since he has both a girl and a boy older than him there is really nothing he needs. But I couldn’t just not get him anything. He just turned one so it’s not like he’s going to notice, but us as Mom I think have so much emotion for our children that we just want to make it perfect whether they care or not. It is interesting that finding toys for our kids can be so hard. Some gifts I buy knowing they are going to only be played with 1-2 times, but yet the look on their face is priceless and so worth it. My oldest Alliyah could go to the store and you tell her to pick out anything and she could actually leave the store with nothing, she’s very undeceive. We were talking today about why we give gifts for christmas, and who gave the ultimate gift. God has given us such an unworthy gift of His son to our world to pay our penalty on that cross. The reason He did this was because He loved us so much. We love our kids so much and want to give them everything, but nothing fits the bill. I was thinking about today as I read your facebook post about the dollar store and dog toy is that greatest gift we can give our kids besides teaching them about Christ is US. If you think about it, we are the ones who put that smile on their face day after day, we know what they need everyday and we take care of them. Can a toy make Gideon laugh as hard as you make him laugh? Would he rather touch a toy or your face/hands? I’m a big gift giver so and it’s fun to show love to our kids by giving them gifts, but sometimes I forget that I can be a gift to them. I hope your christmas is amazing! How fun for Gideon’s first christmas! Oh and also I got a ton of stuff at the dollar store this year for my kiddos =). Gideon has the best mama! You are doing so awesome!

    1. Jacey, You’re so right. Nothing makes our kids laugh and smile more than us. Just like they are a gift to us, we are a gift to them! Thanks for that reminder friend!!! And thanks for your wise words and encouragement. I value your wisdom and support. Merry Christmas!!! 🙂

  4. Sam: as a parent of a child with special needs, you will probably have many more of those “grieving” moments. However, we do what we believe is right for our kids. If squeaky dog toys work for him, they are RIGHT for him.

    Jacob has wanted a batman cave since August. Even though he will be 11 in January, that is what HE wanted. Incidentally, it’s the first time he has REALLY wanted a particular item. Age appropriate? No. Will he LOVE it? That is the intent.

    Plus, with the noisy toys, you’ll always know where he is!

    1. Thanks Donna!! I appreciate your encouraging words. I hope Jacob enjoys his bat cave as much as Gideon loves his squeaky dog toy!! 🙂

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