This marks the end of the From Chaos to Calm: The LET. IT. GO. Christmas Challenge for me. I’ve enjoyed reading the daily e-mails and being encouraged to just “let it go” and take my Christmas holidays from chaos to calm.
On Day 5 of the challenge, Karen’s focus is on The Gifts. I have to say that this is an area that really doesn’t stress me out.
I used to love to go shopping and would actually work on my Christmas shopping all year long, starting the day after Christmas at the half-price sales. I’d keep a running list of what I had purchased for each child and try to stick with spending similar amounts on each and having about the same number of packages to open.
While I’ve mentioned previously in the challenge that we’ve been trying to take the commercialism out of Christmas, I have to say that I don’t think we’ve ever really gone overboard when it comes to spending money for Christmas. Often we tried to buy each child one bigger (pricier) item that they really wanted, and then fill in our allotted amount with smaller things. The thing is, though, it’s those extra small things that I look back on and feel are wasted – they’re the things that get played with or looked at on Christmas morning – and maybe even throughout that week – but then later I find laying around the house, discarded and no longer a big deal. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about – the things I either end up gathering up for the trash or the local thrift shop. Pretty pathetic. And, those are the very things I’m trying to avoid these days.
Last year, I remember reading about a clever Christmas gift idea where you buy 4 gifts for each child. There was a little poem that went along with it. I know I probably saved it on my old computer (which crashed in the spring). Out of sight, out of mind.
So, I was pleased to see Karen’s ideas. Here is how they did gifts when her kids were younger:
- One thing to open on Christmas Eve (usually pjs, slippers, a stuffed animal, or sports team throw) something they can use right then as they try to fall asleep with all the excitement.
- In the morning, a stocking full of treasures and treats—with a piece of fruit in the toe. One gets an orange, one a mango & one an Asian pear.
- And then, they open their three gifts from us.
Now, that they are older, they do it a bit differently:
Over the years, we heard about others doing this idea, often with a twist tying it in to the nativity account. So we morphed this tradition into a gold gift, a frankincense present, and a myrrh package. Here is the concept:
GOLD—this, like gold, is a highly desired item; precious; maybe even pricey (thus my annual shenanigans on Black Friday, trying to secure the best deal).
FRANKINCENSE—because the real frankincense was burned during prayer and arose heavenward, the gift in this category is something that will draw them closer to God. Perhaps a new Bible, a Christian book series, a CD, an MP3 player loaded with Christian music or tickets to an event or worship concert.
MYRRH—myrrh is a burial spice used to cover the whole body. So the myrrh gift does the same thing. It goes on the body. In past years this has been rain boots and a new coat, a favorite Detroit Tigers jersey, and a hunting jumpsuit and camouflage boots, for example.
By following this tradition, we have opted out of the "keeping up with the Joneses" contest that often takes place each year. Our kids don’t beg for tons of items since they know there is a limit on how many we will buy.
I am definitely going to be incorporating something similar to this in our home. This year, I had a good friend give me some awesome ideas for practical gifts that don’t take up space – and we went with several of those ideas. I can’t say what they are right now – lest my kids read my blog and find out what they’re getting for Christmas – that would be no fun!
In any case, they’ll each have 4-5 packages to open and not a single thing will be found discarded in the weeks following Christmas. They are gifts that will “keep on giving” throughout 2013. And I’m excited about them!
Don’t let the gifts stress you out! Look for ways to focus more on giving than on getting.
"Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" ~Matthew 25:37-40 (NLT)
I’d love to hear about your family’s gift traditions and how they work for you! Please leave me a comment.