Monday, December 20, 2010

Gift giving in our home

Gift giving often reflects one's value system.  What kind of gift, how many gifts, the cost of the gift(s), tell alot about a person.  Also the person's attitude-both the receiver and the one giving-reveals so much about a person's character.  A bitter gift-giver can also be called a joy-stealer.  A bitter receiver is ungrateful, and makes everyone miserable.  Once we had Eliz, Bry-D and I had our first real talk about values.  Odd, that it wasn't until she was sitting in front of us that we had that conversation.  We knew we wanted to instill the same values, but the how and why of it was different for both of us.  We came from different families, and had importance placed on different things.  We had the same goal, we just had to find out how to reach that goal.  We found that the best way to do that was to make our own way-not to do things the way "his" or "my" family had done it, but to do it totally differently from either of our families.    We agreed that spending time together doing something, playing with each other, or games or reading books was far more important to us than a party or more "things", so for birthdays, one simple, useful gift, and picking a fun activity would be our tradition.  Birthday Parties with friends are every other year(so that as we add birthdays we aren't planning several each year) & instead of recieving presents, we donate to a charity.  It's on the invites and reminders that any gifts will be donated to charity, in the hopes that people realise we're serious, we really don't want gifts.  So far, no one has ever had a problem with this. 

Our Christmas tradition, however, we have had to fight for.  That's mainly because Santa doesn't come to our house.  At all.  Originally, it was because I wasn't interested in putting forth the effort Santa takes.  Trip to the mall or anyplace for a picture?  Not happening.  Remembering to set out cookies and milk?  Right, 'cause I remember stuff like that(whatever) And then, the more we talked, the we more realised, Santa was very contrary to what we wanted to teach our children-mostly that they didn't need material things to be happy, or even to be content.  And Santa's purpose is to bring things.  For the first time, it occurred to me that Santa really has nothing to do with Jesus' birthday.  That's when things really started to come together for us.  Instead of having Santa come, we would celebrate Jesus birthday. 
After a few years of no Santa, we were discussing Santa at MOPs, and one of the moms that did have Santa bring gifts said something I had never thought of.  She stated that telling your children that Santa exists and brings toys, is a lie.  It had never occured to me, it just seemed more like a cultural thing-this is what we do, and we really don't think about why we do it. 

So, if we don't "do" Santa, what do we do?  Since I have a severe sweet tooth, and will find any reason to have cake for breakfast, we have all white birthday cupcakes, with candles, and sing Happy Birthday. 

And that brings us to gifts.  We emphasize that the gift Jesus really wants from us is our hearts, our love, and our obedience. 
But that since Jesus isn't physically there to give a gift, we give each other gifts instead.  And that's when Bry-D said something that I love.  It's not his exact wording, but it's close.
The Three Wisemen brought Jesus three gifts.  They were all gifts He would use, gifts that had a purpose, and I like that.  I don't want to give things just to give them, I want there to be a reason for those gifts-just like even the gift of Jesus being born had a reason.  Let's give no more than three gifts, and they have to be really well thought out.  (I really like being able to fill a stocking with candy and fun little things, so we also hang stockings.)

We read the Christmas Story from the Gospel of Luke-using a Child's Bible, for the sake of the kids, we open our gifts, and empty our stockings. 


And that's where our Christmas traditions began.  This year we've added to it-celebrating Advent, which we've all enjoyed so much, I know we'll be doing it each year from now on.  Something else I'd like to add next year is giving to a charity-maybe giving up getting one of our gifts to do it?  I don't know how we'll fit it in, but after reading about it, my heart yearns for this to be a part of our traditions.  I hope you enjoyyour Christmas traditions, whatever they are.  I hope they grow and evolve with you, as you grow and evolve.

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