Earlier this week, my daughter told me that she had decided not to get her father a new wallet for Christmas. “It’s too personal, and I’m afraid I’d get him one he won’t like.” I started thinking about my own wallet. For many years, my wallet served a dual purpose. It held money and necessary ID cards, but it also held beloved photos of my family. As a child, this photo of my aunt and my grandparents was the first one I was given to put in my wallet, and it stayed there for the next thirty years. It was very special to me, a reminder of the special relationship I shared with all three of them (and still share with my Aunt Debbie today).
My relationship with my aunt hasn’t changed, but my relationship with my wallet has.
At some point, I stopped carrying photos in my wallet. why carry a few printed photos in my wallet when I could produce a stream of photos on my flip phone? Suddenly, my wallet became lighter without the necessary insert of plastic sleeves. I was able to go from a thick wallet to a thinner one that just had pockets for my cards, cash, and change with a holder for my checkbook.
Before I knew it, I was carrying fewer paper bills and almost no change. Again, my wallet decreased in size. It held just a few bills, my checkbook, and my cards. Change was typically slipped into the door of my car or into my coat pocket to be emptied later into our giant, plastic pretzel barrel where we saved for vacations. My purse became lighter as my wallet held fewer things.
And then came the dawn of the debit card, and with its widespread use, the advent of the paperless age. Gone was the thick checkbook. I only needed to carry a check or two for those rare times plastic wasn’t accepted. My wallet became even smaller, just a little lambskin case given to me by a friend. Even my purse went from a giant carry-all to a small bag with just enough room for the wallet, my reading glasses, and a tube of lipstick.
Now, there are days I don’t even take my purse with me when I go out. My phone case holds the little cash and few cards I need, and whatever photographs I want to save are on my phone. With the convenience of electronic payments, I hardly even need a credit card. I’ve never felt so carefree as when I can grocery shop without worrying about where my purse is or run an errand without being weighed down by a huge bag of stuff.
So, what’s the point of all this? Who cares about the transformation of the modern wallet? What does it have to do with life, love, happiness, or anything else?
I would argue that it’s a metaphor for how we should live our daily lives. As we get older, our lives change and our circumstances change. We accumulate a great amount of stuff along the way that we carry with us throughout our lives–both physical stuff and emotional stuff. We feel the need to have the giant wallet, the giant purse, and even the giant house. We think that the more we have, the happier we will be. We feel like we need to fill all the rooms and all the pockets. We need a card for every slot. In the end, though, we’re going to leave it all behind. We’re going to realize that it’s all just filler, things that take up space. We only need the bare essentials. We only need what’s necessary to complete the task at hand.
During this Christmas season, don’t be burdened down with stuff. Carry only what you need. Decorate with the things that bring you joy. That box of greenery you used to love putting on your front porch that now brings only dread of having to deal with it–throw it out! Those decorations you bought because you thought you needed more, but you don’t even like the way they look–give them away. Display the things you truly love, the things that bring a smile to your face.
Make time for friends, go to church more, spend time in prayer. Advent isn’t about a wild rush at a hectic pace. Slow down, take a breath, think about Advent and Christmas in a different way this year. Are they really about the stuff? Are they really about the gifts? Are they really about the lights and the noise?
Isn’t it about the quiet? The stillness? The peace? The coming of the Lord in a humble cave on an ordinary night under a calm winter sky? The King of Kings came into this world as a baby–meek, mild, naked, poor, with nothing. And He left this world in much the same way.
This holiday season, let’s carry with us the things we need most, the things that truly matter. Let’s carry humility, awareness, generosity, gratitude, hospitality to all, a loving heart, and a prayerful spirit. Empty your pockets and your bags of all that is weighing them down. Empty your heart and your mind of the burdens that keep you up at night, that plague your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Take only what you need, give what you can, and hold onto the peace, love, and hope that comes from God. In the end, those are all you will ever need.
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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Listening to the Silence.
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, is based, in part, on her family history and is garnering many five star reviews.
Book Three of the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, is now available! Purchase your copy today of the “book that was a joy to read!”- Ann on GoodReads.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).