Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Six stockings

I have been worrying a bit lately about my stockpile of stuff. It is on a shelf in our home, where I've lined up our very favorite shampoos and toothpastes and things bought for free with coupons -- or sometimes I was even paid to buy them! And it is nice to have things on hand so I know we won't run out before the next sale. But I have been thinking of things like sufficiency in Christ, the Christ who told us to give our things away, and I have been wondering whether I trust too much in my pile of things, even if they are very useful things I got for free.

This time of year gets me excited, though. At our church they set up a few giving trees, with stockings underneath you can fill with needy children and ornaments that tell you what you could buy for people at the local nursing home. Some of the gift requests were so simple, asking for toothpaste or nail polish remover. I got a few things and put them under the tree last weekend, with more than a week to go before the deadline.

Some of the stockings for the kids hadn't been taken when we went to church, though. I thought someone might take them at one of the later Masses, but I asked Joe to look to see if there were any left. I figured I could fill them with some extra CVS bucks I have... it sounded like fun. But I didn't expect Joe to bring home six stockings! (I definitely didn't tell him that, well, I was thinking he could just choose one or two.) So now we have stockings for one medium-size girl and five medium-to-big boys.

And to fill that many, we raided our stockpile. Toothpaste was on the list of suggested items! And oh, we had lots -- and toothbrushes, and sweet vanilla lotion for the girl, and lots of gum I'd bought during my chewing-gum-all-the-time days, and some candy. And with the last of the CVS bucks and a handy coupon that just arrived from JCPenney, there were a few toys for the younger boys and hats or gloves. Some really cool and hats and gloves! And a few dollars went to getting a good hat for the teenage boy.

It is confusing, living this life. Though I know some nuns who really do rely on providence to meet all their daily needs, and I admire their radical trust in God, I don't think that's quite how I'm supposed to do things myself, especially now that I have a husband and a little girl. But how am I supposed to do it? I know there is no such thing as guaranteed security in life, but being more secure some ways helps you be more giving in others... if I save money on toothpaste, I can put it toward better things. But seeking security on this earth isn't the point, and it is easy to get distracted by it. I wouldn't mind hearing anyone else's thoughts on these things.

I am glad to give the toothpaste away, though I know I will feel strange if I run out before the next sale and have to pay for more. I haven't paid for toothpaste in a long time!