Happy Birthday to Me

I wanted to revisit this post from last year.  You’ll find that it is still relevant.  Maybe not perfectly timed, but ok enough. However, I’m 30 now, and I only got two cakes for my birthday… Step it up next year.

I hope you are full whilst reading. I actually meant to post last night. Merry Thanksgiving and Happy Christmas!

Had a birthday recently.  Turned 29.

Just throwing that out there for anyone who wants to throw a big 3-0 party for me.  I like cake.

I got some stuff.  Ya know, few baseball cards, sack of marbles….. Petey.

I love birthdays.

My birthdays.

I don’t love yours that much.

I think everyone needs their own day, though.

So if you don’t have a birthday… GET ONE!

But you know what I love more than birthdays?

Christmas!

As of my writing this, it is September 30th and my smokin’ hot wife and I have already seen a house decorated for Christmas.

And you know what?

hate when other people hate when other people decorate “too early.”

Who’s the bozo who laid the rules for when you can or can’t decorate for Christmas?

Let.  Them.  Decorate.

I love the lights.  I love the trees.  (I hate Santa Claus).  I would love the weather if I didn’t live in Alabama.

I think it was 80 degrees last Christmas.

But in 2010 we had a white Christmas!  In Alabama!

Not all of us… but some of us.  And it was really cool (No pun intended.  But if there was, it’d be hilarious).

The best part is the build up.  Smokin’ Hot Wife plays the Christmas music right after Thanksgiving.

Bad Christmas music = Santa Claus crap

Good Christmas music = Jesus stuff

Might I recommend this one to get you in the Christmas spirit?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJ_MGWio-vc

OK fine…. it’s not time for Christmas.

But I get excited about it because I have mastered the art of gift giving.

Really.

There is NO ONE who can give a gift like me.  I’m the world’s best giver.

I’m also humble.

Now, you may think that I mean I have the uncanny ability to pick out the greatest gift possible for any recipient.

No.  I suck at that.

One time I got Pops a wheel balancer because I heard him say he would rather have the simple kind than the electric one (I don’t know how else to explain it, get off me).

I even told Ned, “This is exactly what Pops wants.  Let’s buy him this.”

It wasn’t what Pops wanted.  He already had like three.

The first Christmas my smokin’ hot wife and I had together (I was but courting her at the time) I could not find her a gift to save my life.

Other than the fact that I was completely broke, the gift search was unbearable.  I went to antique shops, thrift stores, furniture stores, you name it!

I searched far and wide for the perfect gift… that was less than $30.

Eventually, I ordered a pillow online.  It was a decorative pillow (for those of you thinking Oh, great job, genius) with someone dancing on it… I think.

I thought it was a nice gesture, her being a dancer and all.  And pillows are used often, right?

Well, it was late being shipped.  By about three months.

So Smokin’ Hot Wife got very little for Christmas Day.

And when the pillow did come in, it was horrible.  It looked like it had been stitched together by a stitcher untrained in the arts of stitchery while it was being shipped.

It looked way better online than in person, I told myself and Smokin’ Hot Wife over and over and over.

All this to say… that’s not what I mean by I’m the world’s best giver.

The only thing I really mean by it is that I know how UNIMPORTANT it is to give gifts.

Calm down.

Breathe.

Let me defend myself.

I’ll do it in list form:

  1. I wish I could buy everyone I love a brand new car or house or bat cave or trampoline.
  2. I can’t.
  3. Is Christmas about receiving gifts?  Or giving gifts, for that matter?
  4. What have I done to deserve gifts for my birthday?  Live a little longer?  That’s not really my fault.
  5. Please, do not hesitate to send me gifts for my birthday and Christmas.

Are you aware of how much money this country ALONE spends on Black Friday?

It’s enough to provide a constant flow of fresh water to every single person on this planet

MULTIPLE TIMES!

I don’t say this to condemn.  Only to put it into perspective.

Gifts are fine.  They are wonderful.  They are fun.

I’ll get some.  I’ll enjoy it.  I’ll give some.  I’ll enjoy it.

But if you put your entire November income (or more) towards Christmas gifts, you are foolish.

People do this.  It’s actually common.

I know the intent is pure.  The heart is kind.  These men and women do so because they want their children (or parents or significant other or whoever) to have a good Christmas.

I get it.  Really.

Listen, one year I got a pack of underwear for Christmas (underwear I needed), and I was excited about it!

It’s on video somewhere.  I pray it’s never found.

And I know how hard it is to say To the depths with society’s standards! during the most wonderful time of the year.

But we don’t have to deal in extremes.

We have already decided in our household that Christmas will be celebrated.  Gifts will be received and given.  There will be decorations.  There will be lights.  There will be trees.

Disclaimer:  1  –  I know it isn’t Jesus’ real birthday.  2  –  I know it’s an old Pagan holiday.  3  –  I don’t care.

But let’s limit.  Let’s budget.  Let’s not go overboard.

Our Christmas budget has already been set up.  And Christmas gifts have already been purchased (hope they like ’em… yikes).

Every year we know around September or October how much we want to spend on each person we are going to buy a gift for.

Then, we add it all up.

Then, we add another $20 or so to the total for anything that goes over a few pennies or dollars.

This year we are updating the kitchen, so Smokin’ Hot Wife and I are limiting our Christmas gifts for each other in something I like to call “kitchens are expensive.”

A tradition that was implemented by Smokin’ Hot Wife’s mother years back was to limit her children to $100 each for Christmas every year.

She had 3 children, so I think that’s pretty reasonable.  She has maintained that method over time as well, which I believe is even more reasonable (not raising her teenagers’ limits), a method we will most likely implement with our children.  When they are older.  2-year-olds don’t need $100 worth of anything other than diapers (I must be honest, though, we want to get our 2-year-old a tricycle… we’ll probably spend $100 on him this year).

Methods such as these are wonderful tools, but I would caution you to reduce that limit if the original becomes unsustainable, i.e. those children all become married and start having kids themselves.

$300 quickly turns into $800.

If you can’t afford it, don’t do it.

If your children are upset that they didn’t get more than what your limit allowed, your children are ungrateful snobs who want to be, or already think they are, better than everyone else.

Christmas is fun!

Don’t make it stressful.  Do not conform.

 Wisdom With Pops: Volume 3

$100,000.

That was his number for as far back as I can remember.

Pops would always say he could get by with that much.  Not every year.  Just one time.

$100,000.

Let’s analyze…

Say you need $3000 every month to live on (takes care of all your bills and expenses).

Then a one-time $100,000 would last for 2 years and 9 months.

If you need $5000 every month to live on, it would last for 1 year and 8 months.

$10,000 every month, 10 months.

You get it.  Easy math.

That would be a nice break from work, but assuming that you are maintaining your current lifestyle and not adding any income to that amount of money, it would run out soon.

What if you had it with your current lifestyle and you continued working?

Hopefully, you would apply it towards giving, debt, savings, investing, and then a trip with your spouse.

But how long would it last for you?

Honestly, if I had $100,000 in a lump sum right now, it would be gone within a week.  After Jesus money, paying off our car, putting a significant amount towards our house, savings, and mutual funds, it’s gone.

It’s a powerful amount of money, but it’s gone in a day.

And that’s with no stupid purchases.

It’s a lot of money, but it isn’t.

I don’t know if Pops would really be set with that kind of money.  I don’t know if he would’ve had it all together with that one-time amount.  I don’t know.

But I do know that he believed in this:

“…give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me…”

That is part of a Proverb.  From Agur.  I don’t know who Agur is other than the son of Jakeh, the man of Massa.  ESV footnotes…

Pops didn’t care to be rich.

I’ve always admired (and envied) that.

I struggle with it now.  I imagine that riches would eliminate most of my doubts and all of my worry.

But I was never taught that by him.

That’s a thought I’ve formulated myself through over-analyzing everything and watching television…

And listening to Mammon more than Daddy.

I found  this interesting:

“I think everyone should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

I want you to guess who said that.

Five seconds…

1…

2…

3…

4…

5…

Jim Carrey.

Is that a lackluster answer?  I didn’t think so.  I thought it was incredible.

Hopefully, you know that Jim Carrey is rich and famous and is speaking out of experience.

He has earned the right to say that.

To me, profound.

I just did a Google search about chasing wealth, and one of the links is “Why Chasing Money is Worse than Dogs Chasing Cars.”

I’ll try not to be graphic, but have you ever seen dogs chase cars?

Number 1, it does not always turn out so well.

Number 2, what in the world does that dog think it’s gonna do if and when it actually catches the car?

Number 3, sometimes that car is pulling a trailer, and the dog doesn’t see it.

To me, profound.

How about this:

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” – somewhere in the Bible

The next verse says to flee from these things…

To me, profound.

Flee from riches?

Advertisements, commercials, music, people, my mind, etc…

They all tell me to get rich or die trying.

But the Bible and Pops have always taught me differently, so there must be a reason to not chase riches…

Here’s the rest of Agur’s proverb from before:

“…lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ “

Recall that he said “give me neither poverty nor riches” (emphasis mine).

He didn’t want the worst and he didn’t want the best.  He wanted the in between.

He wanted peace.

He wanted contentment.

He wanted freedom.

That’s what Pops was always trying to teach me whether he knew it or not.

It’s not about riches.  It’s about freedom.

Do not conform.