one of the worst things for me about Christmas is the excess.

when it comes to food i have a saying that goes, ‘Gluttony is its own reward’ and it’s true… and i need to be intentional before i sit down at a Christmas meal laden with yummy foods to calm down and have a decent meal but not go overboard. which is why Val and i have taken on a tradition both our families taught us to do, which involves inviting people who are likely to be by themselves to join us for a meal which we usually do on Christmas Eve.

but when it comes to gift-giving and spending money you often don’t have on things people often don’t want or need often [although not always] because of the feeling 0f compulsion [they are going to give me something so i have to get them something, or i am expected to get something for so and so] and that just makes me sad and irritated and bleargh.

but this post is not about that [trying to do more shining light and less pointing out poo in my life these days]

it is not even about this incredible video which really inspired me both by the incredibleness of a village in Malawi being able to obtain clean water for the first time ever [and how we can be a part of funding that] but more so just by the heart and life and community that exudes out of these people [who the majority of us blog-reading types would probably consider poor – although it looks like they have so much to offer us in terms of living well and appreciating each other].

this post is suggesting a gift idea that you might want to consider [especially, but not exclusively, if you are a married couple] giving to a couple you know to send them the message that you are cheering on their marriage [which let’s face it, is an institution under much stress and attack these days]

i don’t think i ever would have been thought such a thing if it hadn’t been done for us…

in our time at the Simple Way in Philadelphia, our schedule was pretty hectic [morning prayer at 8am then work from 9 to 5 then something on most evenings and in ‘our spare time’ the idea of connecting with the locals and building community on Potter Street] and we also lived in intentional community with 3 other people [and not the thickest of bedroom walls] in a house that was the centre hub of all the local action with food distributions and after school programs and community potluck meals and so time was a scarce commodity. also with people around all the time our bedroom was both a place of intimacy [remember those walls?]and conflict as it was the only place we really had to be alone – not the most conducive for growing healthy relationship.

and we were in the middle of a voyage of discovery as far as finances and living simply and a mindset that had just moved from South African rands [small] to Americanese Dollars and prices of things in dollars which seemed very daunting once we multipled them by 9, then 10, then 10 and a half…

[enter Lisa and Jacques, stage left]

now to set some context, Lisa’s parents are family friends of ours [who just happen to share the same last name as us but are not officially related although quite possibly more related than mere blood – they have played a huge and encouraging role in the life of our family] and at that point i had never even met Jacques and possibly seen Julie last ten years previously or something… this came out of nowhere.

dATEand i’m not sure if i am remembering this correctly, but i feel like it might have come as a once off gift and then was quickly followed by a note that said, ‘actually we are going to be doing this every month for the next year’ – but the point is this – they committed to giving us a gift of a date night once a month for a year.

 

such a powerful and surprising and effective and life-transforming gift

what was great about it was that it was money given to us to specifically ‘waste on ourselves’ – we don’t have to make any decisions on if or how we could spend it, because they had designated it to be spent for date nights and so once a month [and it was a generous amount so often stretched to more than once] we could head out and find some respite and space for us to just spoil ourselves and be able to date each other.

i don’t know that this is true for every couple, but i do know that we have found marriage to be hard. add into that mix moving city [and country] three times in the four years of being married and having to figure out and then live in the new transitions that life has dealt us and it has not always been easy to give each other the focus and love that we should. having a year’s worth of Date Nights from the Pieterse’s was an absolute gift.

so, if you are a couple who is doing alright financially, that might be one way in which you could really encourage another couple. maybe it is a young couple in their first year of marriage; maybe it is a couple who have just transitioned into a new place or season or work situation; maybe it can take the form of offering a night of babysitting to a couple with children so that they can get out for the night; maybe it is a couple you know who have been struggling a bit in their marriage and could maybe use a bit of a boost.

start by doing it as a once off. anonymously or with a note [i like the idea of identifying yourselves so that you can send the message of ‘we have your backs’ – ‘we are cheering you on’. and then possibly commit to doing it for a year or even just six months and let the couple know what your commitment is so they can be planning for it.

and if you decide to do this, i would so love to hear who you chose and how it goes…

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