Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus.
What about gifts?
Aaron and I have been on a journey with this for so long and I still think we're trying to find out way. Just in the past month we've changed our mind a hundred times on what gifts will look like this year in our house.
We started with committing to buy gifts from people that make a difference. No Target, Wal-Mart or Best Buy. Instead we would buy candles that would make a difference in this world. We would buy baby blankets that would help a family bring home their daughter from Ethiopia. We would buy jewelry and tee shirts that would help out kids at our favorite Rescue Center in Haiti. Instead of a random Barnes n Noble table top book we would buy this one that helps out missionaries in Haiti. I would love to give everyone a pair of these shoes that when you buy a pair donates another pair to someone in need. We would buy these cool shirts for kids that for every shirt sold feeds an orphan for a month. We would support one of our favorite organizations, Compassion International, and buy all of our family members these shirts. We would buy our sporty friends these water bottles to take on trips to Haiti with them!
We had great intentions. All of our gifts would be cool and make a difference. You can't beat that can you?! I loved the idea. I wrote down all of our family members and planned out what we would buy them. It was perfect
Then we watched this video over at the Advent Conspiracy site: (I know I've posted this video before, but it surely can't hurt to watch it twice! I know I have this year.)
We watched that video and thought even though all of those gifts are good and do benefit someone we don't need to spend our money on that. There are people all over the world with lack of clean water. Just clean water.
We thought …. what if we bought ZERO gifts. Yes you read that right …. ZERO! If we did that we could take all the money we would have spent and send it to help someone that needs basic life giving supplies such as clean water and rice and beans. Wow! We were pumped. We decided we would do that. Not one gift under the tree.
Aaron and I were fine with that. We've never exchanged Christmas gifts since we got married. Maybe it started out as lack of money, but now we just don't see the need.
So we got the courage up to tell my family about this. We were going to tell them the plan and we'd all be on board. We had it all going on.
We sat them down and told them OUR plan. We told them they had to participate or else. We didn't use those words, but for some reason that's how I feel it came out. Not how we wanted it to to sound, but never-the-less we had figured it all out and we were going to share our plan with our family.
They weren't exactly excited. They were kinda shocked. I mean can you blame them. We sit down and tell them to do no gifts for everyone and we are all putting our money together and sending it to a certain place that we had already predetermined.
How rude of us! We didn't ask anyones opinions. We told everyone what was going on. We determined where the money would go. We thought we had it all going on.
So, a week later Aaron and start to realize that we were kinda not thinking straight about it. We were requiring this of people that didn't have to do whatever we told them to do! It's like we had great intentions, but were missing the heart behind the matter. You can't tell someone what to do about gifts. It's something they have to figure out on their own. We were thinking we could tell everyone what to do and that didn't work out too well. We called my family and apologized for telling everyone what to do and throwing our ideas and morals on them. They were sweet and accepted and no one hates us! We are all on our journey!
Now onto the kids. I don't want my kids to think Christmas is all about gifts. That is my biggest fear. I want them to know why we celebrate Christmas. That without Jesus' miraculous birth our life would not be the same. God was gracious to send us his son on earth to give us an example of how to life and to make a way for us to have restoration with God. What a great thing to celebrate.
We've been talking with them about this. Here was my tactic. Not sure if it was good or bad, but hey it's what I did. I laid out these cards of kids that we have from Compassion. All these kids live in poverty and are in need of basic things like food, water, medical needs and schooling. I asked Cayden if he would like to not get any gifts and help out these kids.
Well he's four … of course he said, no he would like a gift! I talked more about these kids and we read the information on the back of each one together. He asked a million questions about each one. He couldn't understand why one little boy didn't have any shoes on in his picture. He was wanting to help them. I saw it in his eyes. He was genuinely concerned about these kids. He looked at me and with the sweetest voice said “can't we do both”. In that moment I thought. Well, can't we do both?
How do we do both?
I don't want to deprive my kids of gifts. But I don't want them to think that Christmas is about gifts.
I want them to desire to help others, but I can't make them feel that.
I want them to choose others over themselves, but you can't force that on a child.
I don't want our kids to grow up resenting us because when they were four and three we didn't get them at least one stinking present for Christmas.
You see my dilemma. I desperately want to spend less on Christmas. I desperately want to teach my kids about helping others and not seeing Christmas as a time to get lots of gifts. I desperately want to be different than the world in this. We don't want to be consumerist in our lifestyle and I don't think we are, but how do I find balance.
I want nothing for Christmas. Honestly I hope that no one in my extended family gets me a gift. I need nothing. We are probably not getting gifts for extended family and donating that money elsewhere. Does that make us scrooge?
I just want balance. I want to give money away at Christmas and allow my kids the joy of opening up a few gifts on Christmas morning. I want balance. I want kids that don't desire stuff. I want kids that want to give away more than they want.
How do you find balance on this issue? Anyone out there do NO gifts?
Also check this article out.