Monday, December 22, 2014

The Best Gift Ever

As a child, I loved Christmas, as I think most children do.  To me, Christmas meant delicious food and toys.  Growing up in a large middle class family in the 1970's, we did not have extravagant gifts, but I remember many Christmases fondly.  There was the year that I received the baby doll in the pink blanket, and the year that I got the little record player that played Christmas songs on 45s.  One year, my brother received a set of plastic cowboys and Indians complete with plastic cows and horse corrals, and we could not wait to get up to start playing with them at the crack of dawn Christmas morning.

We always opened our presents on Christmas Eve, and then my mother would read the Christmas story to us from the Bible while we ate candy and treats.  It was the most wonderful day of the year.

I am reminded of that joy now as I purchase gifts for my nieces and nephews.  Their wish lists are a lot different than mine were since they are a lot more technologically savvy than I ever was--maybe than I still am--but the excitement over Christmas is the same.

It seems to me that as we get older, the Christmas spirit is a little harder to catch.  For those of us who are self-employed or commissioned, the holidays are an especially stressful time of year as we try to adjust to ever changing demands of an economy that does not want to cooperate. In 2014 I moved to the Dallas metroplex, took a new job while continuing to run my own media company and worked unimaginably long hours while attempting to make new contacts and friends and learn how to navigate a city of six million people.  It was joyous and stressful and wonderful and brutally tough--all at the same.

Add to this stress the normal stressors of packed malls, and packed streets and packed freeways--I did not know what traffic was until I found myself stuck for hours on 1-35--and the invariable stresses of work and finances, and it can all combine to make the most dedicated lover of Christmas throw up his or her hands and shout "Bah Humbug".

But it is at those moments that I force myself to take a deep breath and to remember that Christmas is still the most wonderful day ever.  Although my nephews and nieces would take exception to this, the best gift ever is not a video game, or a doll, or a toy, or a car or a vacation. This year the best gift ever is not even a new job or gas prices below $2.00 a gallon, although that does make my heart sing.  The best gift ever is the gift of Christmas itself, which reminds us that we always have hope and that miracles happen no matter how bleak the world may seem.  For those of us who are Christians, Christmas is a powerful reminder that God is with us and we don't have to fear the future, even if at times it looks scary.  It is a reminder that we are loved. "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." (John 3:17).  And it is a chance to express love and kindness in real terms to people around us and to those we are blessed to have love us in return.  And all of those things are priceless and worth celebrating.

Merry Christmas.
Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Don't Wait for the Next Election--Vote with Your Dollars Now

Last December I wrote a post entitled, Don't Wait for 2014, Vote with Your Dollars Now.  I wrote about my own experience of deciding to purchase my pathetically small number of Christmas candles at Hobby Lobby to support them as they fought against the government mandate that they pay for abortions.

I promised myself last December that as long as Hobby Lobby remained open, I would always patronize them at Christmas with whatever candles and Christmas lights I needed for the holiday season.  Honestly, when I made that promise I did not expect them to be open past mid-2014.  Although I wanted Hobby Lobby to win their case and I prayed that they would do so, after so many years of political disappointments I simply did not believe that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule that a business can make moral decisions with its dollars.

Of course, Hobby Lobby did prevail at SCOTUS and is very much alive and well.  And this, my first Christmas living in the Dallas metroplex, I drove to a very conveniently located Hobby Lobby and made my purchases.  The dollar amount was small, but the commitment to support this business and others like it that stand for freedom was important.

In that spirit, I want to take this moment, now that the holiday shopping season is in full swing, to remind all freedom loving Americans that where we spend our dollars does matter.  The society we fight to preserve is a free enterprise society which promotes personal freedom and responsibility allows people to find success beyond their wildest dreams.  And yet, so often when it is time to spend our money we forget that our dollars are the most important ballot we will ever hold.

As conservatives we just won a historic election, which has bought our country some time as we attempt to undo the massive damage that big government policies have done.  Our fight is not over; it is just beginning.  And the only reason we are still in this fight is because of companies who had the money and will to stand up to the government--companies like Hobby Lobby who were willing to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend their right to run their own business according to the dictates of their own conscience. Each victory has been a victory for freedom that ultimately made the victory one month ago possible.

Voting with our dollars does not have to mean a huge lifestyle change--it does not mean boycotting certain companies or products or making grand, sweeping promises we can't or won't keep.  We can vote in simple decisions--by choosing to give to charities that actually support conservative goals and values rather than those that are merely smokescreens funneling money to causes we find repugnant--yes Susan G. Koman Foundation, I'm talking about you.  In October I was making a purchase when the twenty-something clerk at the store asked me if I would like to donate some money to Koman.  When I politely declined she rolled her eyes as if to say that I was clearly a bad person who didn't care whether women got cancer.  I did not have time to explain to her that I cannot donate to Susan G. Koman because as a woman and a Christian conservative I support the health and well being of all women--including pre-born women who will be killed thanks to the organization's donations to Planned Parenthood.  I don't support abortion, so I don't give to Susan G. Koman.  Plain and simple. 

I do support free enterprise, freedom of speech and entrepreneurship; therefore, I buy my candles at Hobby Lobby.  I don't make all of my purchases based on a company's political views, but when I am able to do so, I support those organizations who support the liberties that we hold dear. I have found that the more consciously I evaluate WHERE I spend my money the easier it is to do so.  I invite all of you to do the same.  Through our spending we can send an even more powerful message than we can with our votes. 

Don't wait for the next election 2 years from now.  Make an impact in your day-to-day life.  You will be surprised at the changes you will see.

 Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at