Your little ones are the apple of your eye. You’d do anything for them. You want to see them happy.
The excitement on their faces warms your heart when you think of how they’ll react opening that awesome must-have gift on Christmas morning.
I think most of us get enjoyment from giving to our children and we should. It’s Biblical….. Matthew 5:9-11 says “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
It’s also worldly.
In today’s culture gift giving has gone to an extreme in many families. Six year olds getting ipads and cell phones of their own and parents spending thousands of dollars per child each year on things. Not to mention that stores go to extremes to get our attention and our money turning Christmas into a retailer’s paradise of increased sales and gross profit.
So how do we balance the desire of our heart to give gifts during this season of remembering the One who was the ultimate gift without slipping into the cultural norm of extreme?
Keep Jesus First
As Christians, Jesus is our reason for celebrating Christmas. If we seek to keep him central in the things we do and the traditions we build with our families it’s easier to stay focused on what is important and what is secondary.
Things like a simple advent activity each day or every few days is a great tradition to start with young children. You can build upon it as your children grow. Here’s some simple Advent ideas.
Displaying a nativity scene, and letting children help arrange it is another way to keep Jesus central.
My prayer is that by keeping Jesus central to our Christmas each year starting now, while Little Man is young, we can instill in him the value of the season and not just the rewards of the season.
Give and Receive Meaningful Gifts
As we focus on Jesus during Christmas and invite Him to guide us in our gift giving we may find that our gift lists naturally gets simplified.
I’ve heard others mention the rule of three. Each recipient, children especially, get three gifts. These gifts represent the three gifts Jesus was given by the Magi. If your older children know in advance they will get three things, you can also guide them in choosing wisely what three things they would like.
As I have grown up I realize that now when I ask for something it is typically something I really want, something I know I’ll put to good use. A new sweater is nice and I will wear it but a new kitchen tool will come in handy to feed my family nourishing meals for years to come.
Giving gifts should be far more rewarding than receiving them. Acts 20:35 says “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’’.
We have started a tradition of ordering something from the Christmas Critter Campaign in honor of Little Man. This gift helps bless someone in need with a practical gift like a goat, chickens, a rickshaw or even a well.
Last week, we sat down and looked through the catalog and decided on a gift we would give. Little Man opted for a pair of chickens. Of course, this is because he loves to say “Cocka-doodle Dooo,” but we still involved him in the process.
Give to others gets the focus off of self and onto others that
Stay on a Budget
Unfortunately now is not the time to be planning a Christmas budget for 2012. It is however the perfect time to set up a budget for Christmas 2013. Keep your receipts from gift purchases you’re making this year. Jot down or make a spreadsheet of how much you spend per person and for wrapping, décor, food, etc.
Once the holiday is over, add up your list and divide by 12. That’s how much money you need to save each month starting in January to save for the next Christmas.
If you have a budget already be sure you’re staying on track. Communicate with your spouse, if he too buys gifts, to ensure you aren’t busting the budget unknowingly.
Don’t let emotions wreck your budget. Johnny does NOT need 15 new toys even though he circled them all in the catalog. He still doesn’t need them all even though he threw himself on the floor and told you he’ll die without them.
Of course, you should honor God and if He speaks to you about spending money on something then by all means, have faith to give that gift knowing God will work out the finances. Be sure this is done prayerfully with your spouse.
Letting your children share in the budget and planning process for gift giving is a practical example of good stewardship.
Simple is Still Special
Simple does not mean stingy, it does not mean boring and it doesn’t mean you’re less of a person for offering a simple Christmas to your children.
This year, we are keeping it even simpler than before. With the house situation we don’t have a big tree, we won’t be putting up stockings or decorating the outside of the house with lights, and that’s okay.
There’s nothing wrong with doing these things but this year we are focusing, somewhat by force on what really matters, Jesus. I feel we’re learning how to focus on Him and start traditions with Little Man that we otherwise may have over looked.
If you are having a simple Christmas remember that it is still special. Your children may loose their toys and grow out of their clothing but the memories they build with you will last them a lifetime.