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A gift-less Christmas? We must be crazy!
In years past, Christmas morning was consumed by an overwhelming amount of gifts, wrapping paper, beeping toys and greedily rushing through the stack of presents.
That’s how we celebrated: by buying each other “stuff.”
This year, my goal is to teach my children about one little word: contentment.
Such a small word but what a huge thing contentment really is.
Stop for just a second and think. How many adults do you know who are truly content? Who do you know who isn’t keeping up with the Jones’, yearning for a bigger house, nicer car or fancier vacations? I bet you can’t list very many people who are content.
How sad is it that in this fast-paced, consumer-driven world, even adults want more, more, more? When will we say “enough?” When will we learn to be content with the thousands of blessings that have been poured upon us each year?
For my family, it’s now.
Before you get all crazy and start sending me hate mail, yes, I understand that wanting more isn’t always a bad thing. But a lot of times, especially in America, it is.
Contentment, on the other hand, is hardly a bad thing.
This year, we will not be buying our kids any Christmas gifts. We will still have stockings, so they will still have something to open on Christmas morning. We will spend the day enjoying activities together, focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. We will enjoy a breakfast feast, board games, Christmas movies, makeovers, baking our annual birthday cake for Jesus and more.
We will focus on only each other, not material things.
So, why have we decided to bite the bullet and have a gift-less Christmas?
For starters, our kids get so many gifts that there is no way they could possibly appreciate them all. Between my husband’s family, my family and a few close friends, we have exactly 10 families who buy gifts for our kids. Most buy at least 2 items, with the grandparents buying closer to 10 each. That’s a LOT of stuff when you have 3 kids.
When I think back to my childhood Christmas’, I remember getting the trampoline that we had wanted all year. We talked about having a trampoline for months, dreaming about flipping and bouncing higher than all the other kids in the neighborhood.
Do you know what my kids have dreamt about all year?
When I ask them what they want for Christmas, they can’t answer without either going to the store to browse or looking online at the hottest toys.
If my kids really want something, they typically get it. They don’t wait for Christmas. They don’ have to beg. They normally don’t ask for a lot, so when they do, we do our best to get it for them.
I often tell my kids “If you cannot think of what you want or need within 5 seconds of me asking you, then you simply do not want or need anything.”
I think that is a pretty fair assumption.
In today’s celebrations, we have come to expect gifts. Is this what we want to teach our children? That we are entitled to gifts every December, in celebration of a man who lived such a humble life? Is purchasing lavish gifts for our kids really a good way of celebrating a man who was born in a stable? Would Jesus prefer for us to buy our 11 year old the latest iPhone or feed the hungry?
Honestly, we all know the answer to that question.
But we turn a blind eye and pretend like there are not starving children in the world. We pretend that the measly $700 each family spends on gifts each Christmas wouldn’t really do much for the poverty stricken families, all across the world. We pretend that we deserve to give our kids gifts. After all, we’ve worked hard all year to save money for these awesome gifts.
Did you read that? You worked ALL year to save money for the gifts you are about to buy. These gifts will be enjoyed for a week or two, possibly a month, if you’re lucky. Then they will be forgotten. So, you have busted your butt just to exchange your gift for a polite smile and 3 weeks worth of use.
Hmm, that makes sense…
Have you ever stopped to think about how God views our Christmas traditions? Do you think He is pleased? Or do you think He wishes that we would learn to be content. After all, discontentment is our way of saying that what God has provided is not enough. I don’t know about you, but that is NOT the mentality that I want to teach my children.
Do you want pare down gift-giving but not ready for a completely gift-less Christmas yet? Here are some great ideas to keep the presents in check:
- 3 Gifts: Jesus received 3 gifts and we do not deserve any more than He did.
- JOY Gifts: Give gifts to share or bring you closer to Jesus, Others and Yourself. (Perhaps a Bible or new worship CD for J, a board game or dance party for O and a book or art supplies for Y.)
- Something You WANT, Something You NEED, Something to WEAR and Something to READ: Pretty self explanatory. 4 gifts for each child.
- Christmas Eve Box: Fill a box with new jammies, popcorn, hot cocoa and a Christmas movie. Open on Christmas Eve and snuggle up for some family time.
This year, I vow to make new traditions, new memories and new ways of thinking. I want to teach my kids that what we have is enough. Our blessings have been so numerous that they can’t even be counted.
We are choosing to avoid the distractions that the world has placed on our radar. We are choosing to celebrate each other, our love for our family, the blessings we already have and the birth of the original reason to celebrate.
We are choosing to fill our home with love instead of gifts.
Curious about how our Gift-Less Christmas turned out?
Check it out HERE: