Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Traditions: Gift Giving

Christmas would be a wonderful holiday if it wasn't for the gift giving. 

Too strong?  My apologies. 

Put yourself in my shoes.  Who wants to take four children to a crowded store to try and find something that someone will like knowing very well that they will probably take it back anyway?  (Very thankful for the internet so that I can shop without having to go anywhere!)

Of course there is always the option of trading wishlists that contain the exact items.  But, what's the fun in just trading money?  To top that, most Americans either budget or purchase on credit items that most of us don't need all in the name of Christmas. 

You have my permission to call me Scrooge or the Grinch.  Whichever you choose is fine with me.

There has got to be a better alternative.   A way to bring Christ back into gift giving

The practice of giving others gifts goes back to the real Christmas story.  The wisemen brought gifts to Jesus - gold, frankincense and myrrh.  I believe these men were joyful and honored to be able to give these gifts to the Holy Baby.  But the greatest gift of all is the one God gave us - His Son in the form of a baby.
John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
With gifts this precious and the meaning so perfect, how did the gift-giving tradition get so twisted?

You know why...humanism.  Greed.  Pride.  Lack of self-control.  Jealousy.

Let's go back to our original thought.  How do we bring Christ back into gift giving?

By our example. How we handle the gift giving process is how we bring Christ back into the tradition.  Our children are always watching our attitude and actions:
  • Do I give gifts out of obligation or in a desire to let that person know that we love them? 
  • Am I purchasing gifts with an attitude of "get 'er done" or a joy to give?
  • Will purchasing gifts create financial hardship which add stress to my life?
  • Is the focus on what I will receive or what I am giving?
This is one of the best ideas that I have seen for gift giving in a family setting.  Again, this idea comes from the "Campbell" family.
When it was time for us to open Christmas gifts we would each get a pile of presents to give. So it wasn’t all about, "When is it my turn to get?".  Instead it was more about "When is it my turn to give a present?".
Here is another idea from a friend concerning the number of gifts.
Each year each person receives three gifts for Christmas just like the wisemen gave to Baby Jesus.
When giving gifts to neighbors and teachers, allow the children to give the gifts - literally help put together, help wrap, carry, and present.  Let them feel the joy of giving to others.  Within time, the children will see how great it feels to give that they will want to do it more!  Remember the gift baskets idea on Wednesday?  The kids love to help make and distribute these. 

Each year our children give each other books as gifts.  (We seriously don't need any more toys around here!)  Because of their ages, I don't let them have full reign over what book they give but narrowing the field and letting them choose is always an option.  Yes, this takes time but the child feels like he/she had a part of the process.  I choose classic books that will last a lifetime.  (Search the toddler and preschool lists from ABCJLM for ideas.)  Then each sibling takes the time to write their name in the front of the book before wrapping it.  If they can't write yet, I have them draw a small picture.  As the kids get older, they will be able to read what year they received the book and see the signature or drawing of their siblings from that time. 

Time to tie this post up! 

The tradition of opening presents at Christmas is precious in most homes.  I'm not saying to stop exchanging gifts.  Simply, do what you can to change the focus from getting to giving and obligation to joy. 

1 comment :

  1. I love your idea of a pile of gifts to give rather than gifts to open. We're going to try that this year.


The Our Out-of-Sync Life blog focuses on encouraging women to deepen their spiritual life, simplify daily tasks, and impress Jesus on the children around them.