the conversation i’ve been avoiding

Me: Hey guys, I’ve been meaning to talk to you all about Christmas this year.

Kids: What about Christmas?

Me: Well, we’re probably going to do it a little differently this year.  This summer on our trip traveling around the country, we spent a lot of money.  And…

Interrupted by Mary Polly: So this year instead of getting three presents like usual, we’re only going to get one present.  That’s ok.  All I want is…

Me: No, um, actually, we are…

Interrupted by Cole: We’re not getting any presents?

Ben: silent, eyes tearing over

Me:  Well, instead of presents, Daddy and I were thinking that we could make coupons for each other.  And you all get to make them too.  I mean, we already have a lot of stuff.  A lot of stuff.  Last year, I had a hard time figuring out what to get for you all because you have…

Interrupted by Mary Polly: That’s not true!  I made you a list last year so you would KNOW what to get me.  I wanted a…(proceeds to list off last year’s unfulfilled list from memory)

Me: Well, I think that giving each other the gift of experience instead of stuff will actually turn out to be a lot of fun.  I mean, you might get coupons for things like media time.  Or a special lunch out with Daddy.  Or for example, there is a new crepe place in Little Rock called Lemon that is sooo yummy and…

Ben: I LOVE CREPES!

Me: Right, and it’s kind of expensive for our whole family to go there, but maybe you could get a coupon to get to go there with just Mommy.

Ben: YUM!

Mary Polly:  Could I maybe get a coupon to go shopping with just Mommy?

Me:  Well, I’m not sure.  I will have to think about that, but in general, the coupons aren’t really going to be for getting stuff.  They will be more about doing things for one another.  I’m hoping that maybe you guys will make coupons to do nice things for one another.  Mary Polly, you could make a coupon to do Cole’s chores for a day.  Or to read to Simon.

Mary Polly:  Or I could make a coupon for YOU that I will read to Simon.

Me: Yes!  You are right.  That would be a great coupon for Mommy.

Ben: But the coupons have to be a secret.  We’re not going to tell right?  Can we have envelopes to put them in?

Me: Absolutely.  Then we can open the envelopes on Christmas morning instead of presents.

Cole:  Can I have a coupon for unlimited time playing Madden on Xbox for all of 2009?

Me: (Ignoring currently grounded from Xbox middle schooler) Just because we’re not going to do presents doesn’t mean that Christmas isn’t still going to be lots of fun.  I’m hoping we’ll even enjoy finding other things to do instead of shop for presents.  Today Mommy was reading about some families who might need a goat or some chickens for Christmas so that they can have food to eat next year.  Don’t you think it would be cool for you all to raise money to buy that for them?

Ben:  I saw on Animal Planet’s website that you can adopt a bear.

Me:  Well, we can all look around for something special that we could raise money for.  There are lots of families with needs this year.

Cole:  That’s the depression.

Mary Polly:  Is Alltel part of the depression?

Cole: I told my teacher today that if I had 8 million dollars I would buy our house from the bank so we could own it, then I would buy an Xbox 360 and then I would give the rest away to people around the world who don’t have enough to eat.

Mary Polly:  We don’t own our house!?!?

Cole:  The bank owns our house.

Me:  Quick explanation of the following:  how mortgages work, Verizon’s purchase of Alltel and the possible ramifications on the Little Rock area and my super great idea for how the kids might raise money for a Christmas goat or something else that we will choose at a later time because it is getting late and we are getting way off track here.  Ok, let’s pray.

Them:  Combination of Simon’s usual clown act during prayers and the kids snickering at him and their genuinely sweet and heartfelt prayers for various other randomly discussed problems…people they know who work at Alltel, people who might not have money to make their house payment, people who don’t have food, etc.

For real.  Those kids make me crazy a whole HECK of a lot of the time like when they are habitually not turning in school work, sassing me until I can’t see straight for the red flames shooting out of my eyes, hanging upside down on the bench at the dinner table and refusing to take a nap…but dang it all, there are moments that I just LOVE them so much that I think my heart might burst in two.

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