Thursday, October 2, 2008

Gift Exchange or No Gift Exchange?

Gifts or no gifts for Christmas? That's the question I've been asking myself lately. I'm sure the idea has been triggered by our playing catch up on bills and just the conviction from the Lord lately to be better stewards of our money. It may also be triggered by the "trap" you get into with gift exchange.

I don't know about all of you but I feel extreme pressure to make sure everyone knows how special they are to me by giving them a gift. I tell myself when I'm standing in line at 4 am wrapped around a Best Buy store freezing several body parts off that, "This is to show ________ how wonderful I think they are. I really want to warm their hearts this Christmas with this awesome gift. They're going to be soooo surprised!"

I also have that voice telling me that it'll hurt their feelings if I don't buy them a gift. What will they think of me if I don't get them this or that they've been wanting? It'll show them I don't care and then what'll they think of me? I say it's because it's in the spirit of giving, which should be to make the other person feel special, but who is it that I'm really trying to make feel special?Hmmmm.... I'd have to say ME! Where's the Christmas spirit in that huh? Kinda sounds like I'm really not thinking about anyone else at all!

I haven't ran it past any of the fam yet but I am tinkering with the idea of suggesting we maybe give to a charity or help a less fortunate family this year instead of gifts. It may get completely shot down, we'll see.

It's not just the fact that we are tight on money this Christmas, but the more I grow in my walk with the Lord the more I see the true meaning getting lost in the sea of useless kitchen gadgets and toys the kids never play with. I mean... how many foot spas and ugly sweaters does one person need?

I wanted to be brutally honest about some of my own personal thoughts and wondering if I'm alone?


Lori... said...

I knew a family....

This family would use some of the money they would use for gifts and put it toward renting out a "retreat" for one weekend before Christmas. The whole crew - mom/dad, daughters/husbands and their kids, sons/daughters and their kids - they spent their time making natural crafts (pinecones rolled in peanut butter and birdseed, string popcorn and cranberries, singing good 'ol fashion (to God be the glory) Christmas carols, reading from the Bible while sipping homemade hot cocoa, and having just a family weekend - all together. They didn't give gifts to each other, they just spent time together. Game, laughter, a beautifully set table for "Christmas Dinner" with everyone wearing their best duds. I asked one of the small(er) children what they liked about this (being Christmas) holiday season together, they said our family time at the retreat.

But wonderful lady that came up with this idea met some resistance when she first announced the idea, but once passed and participation began - it was everyone's favorite time of the season. She made it all about Jesus, family, love, and fun. Presents weren't part of the equation at all. That is what we are trying to get to.

We use to spend hundreds of dollars on EACH child for Christmas for much of the same reasons you stated. We have scaled it down to about $50 per child and that includes a stocking.

I agree with you. Together, you and hubby will make the right decision! Blessings!

momstheword said...

Our church contacted a local school and asked them for a list of familes in need. So we buy presents for them each year.

As for our siblings, aunts & uncles or cousins (hubby and mine): my husband makes homemade almond roca. I tie it up with a pretty bow and that is our gift, one pound per family. We started that years ago. Just couldn't afford to buy for everyone anymore. For quite awhile, we gave candy while my siblings gave us gifts. Now it seems like everybody just gives gifts of food to one another.

We did buy gifts for our parents, though.