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Works for Me Wednesday: Ending Gift Giving Chaos

Okay, ladies. I want you all to imagine...

I want you to imagine that this Christmas we didn't buy junk from China. We didn't buy things that would cause our children's brains to turn to mush. We didn't buy stuff with small parts that children will leave all over the floor and you will step on in bare feet and try really really hard not to say a bad word.

We didn't buy things for people we didn't like just because we "should".

Imagine, instead, that what we bought was meaningful. Not big, but meaningful. And imagine that we actually had time in December to make Christmas crafts, and to hang some decorations, and to play some board games.

We didn't spend December at the crazy mall with crazy people and slush and no parking spots.

It really can happen. It just takes courage.

I've posted on this before, but I want to state it again: we don't buy our children everything under the sun for Christmas. We do the Three Wise Men thing: we buy them gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Well, not really. But we buy three gifts. The gold gift is something they want; the myrrh gift is something they need; and the frankincense is to nurture their soul. So the frankincense could be a book, or a journal, or a CD, or a magazine subscription. It isn't big. And the kids know that they are only getting three things. So it's not a gift frenzy.

And for the other kids in the family? Well, let's just say we're probably not the favourite aunt and uncle. But I don't care! Because here's my philosophy. If you look around your house, what is it that you still have from your childhood? It may be one teddy, but no other toys. Maybe a Monopoly game. But most of us saved some books. Some hard cover Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys. The Narnia series. Anne of Green Gables.

And so I'm the book aunt. I buy books. Classics. Books that mean something. And maybe one day these kids will get off of the Xbox and actually read them!

One little girl and boy, the "niece and nephew" that we're not actually related to (they're more adopted into the family) do read those books! They love it! Last year we bought the boxed set of Little House on the Prairie, and they've read through them out loud this year. So now I'm going to do .... well, I haven't made up my mind yet. Definitely Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John. And maybe some others.

But I don't want to buy junk just to make these kids happy on Christmas. They have too many junky-type toys already.

And for everyone else on my Christmas list? I'm making scarves. And putting together gift baskets of chocolates and little things, and decorating them. The make pretty gifts, but don't cost much.

But here's our main emphasis at Christmas. We bless others. We tithe throughout the year, giving to certain charities. But at the end of the year we take what we didn't spend on a lot of presents and we build wells in Africa. Or we send money so that blind people can have cataract surgery and see again. How much is your sight worth?

And if you want some great ways to do it, can I suggest a catalog? We love Harvest of Hope. You can buy gifts for people on the other side of the world, and they have a kids' section where children can take their money, and for $9 you can send a child in Sudan to school for a month. For $5 you can send medicine to a family in Vietnam. For $9 you can send Bibles to children. I'm tearing up just looking at it on the web.

So imagine....imagine if this year we didn't buy junk. We bought meaningful things. And we learned about true worship as we stop all the rushing around and just bow at the feet of the King.

That's my idea of Christmas! I'm not saying don't buy gifts. Obviously there is a balance, and we do buy things for each other. But please, make it meaningful this year. Watch this:

Thanks for stopping by! Why not stay and look aound a little at other To Love, Honor and Vacuum posts? I've got great stuff on marriage, s-e-x, a book giveaway, and more!

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At 10:20 AM , Anonymous Susan said…

I LOVE this idea. The hindrance for me is extended family and THEIR expectations of what gifts should be given. I've just had to accept the fact that while they're around, I'll have to toe the line, so to speak. But within our immediate family, I'm with you all the way. Merry Christmas!


At 12:40 PM , Blogger Mzzterry said…

Wonderful, meaningful ideas. Thanks for sharing, you think a lot like we do here in our little family. Have a great Holiday Season, Bless & Be blessed!


At 12:48 PM , Anonymous wendy said…

This post touched me so much. The video at the end had me in tears. The spending less has been my heart for years - we don't have a lot to spend anyway, but My part could make a difference for someone else somewhere. Thanks for the reminder.



At 1:06 PM , Blogger Blessed said…

We don't go crazy at Christmas either... I was talking to a friend of mine about the gifts of the Wise Men idea and she and I think it is great. Hubby's family always did a "Big" Christmas we never did so I'm working on converting him and being patient in the meantime!

My WFMW post is here:


At 1:49 PM , Blogger Wanda said…

Much better idea than what society says to do.
I like that.

Gift giving can be so stressful....and way too costly.


At 3:13 PM , Blogger Laume said…

I was putting together a post on gifts and giving this holiday season for my blog today, and I googled other blogger's thoughts on the subject and stumbled upon your post here. I agree with everything you've said and I love your idea of the three gifts and the symbolism behind it. Just the tradition itself will be a gift to your children that they will cherish throughout their lives, I'm sure. I'm not sure if I agree with you not being the favorite aunt and uncle - I also had a "book aunt" and a "handknit something aunt" and a "new pajamas aunt". I actually did appreciate it all as a child (of course I was always a bibliophile), maybe not the handknit stuff quite as much as the others, but still, I was a polite child and I realize now, a grateful one. We didn't always have a lot when I was growing up. But the real gift is in the wonderful memories I have of these relatives now, most of them now passed on. I do remember all those gifts whereas I'd be hard put to remember all but a few of the "junk" gifts I received when I was young.


At 3:15 PM , Blogger Amy said…

Great, great post. We have never been big Christmas spenders. We are more for the fun of opening a surprise or two more than getting more STUFF.

Still searching for those extra ways to reach out and give beyond our church. Thanks for the link for ideas!


At 3:27 PM , Blogger pedalpower said…

We're doing something like that this year...Instead of presents for all the aunts, uncles, cousins, we're having a party and everyone can pitch into a common piggy bank. Then the kids are going to count it up and decide what animals to buy through Heifer International. We're doing this on New Year's eve so we'll mail our donation off as we walk uptown to see the fireworks.

I definitely see Susan's point..we were lucky this year, as everyone wanted to do something about crazy present buying that had been going on.


At 9:30 PM , Blogger TuTu's Bliss said…

Great advice, books and photographs..Hubby and I always spend money on memories not stuff (family vacations etc..)


At 6:16 PM , Blogger Laura Lee said…

How funny! I've been doing this whole idea of three gifts (want, need, and NEED) with my kids for-evah! We must be reading the same books or something...


At 9:13 AM , Blogger Mrs W said…

I like this idea, but would probably adapt it to do on Christmas eve, with other presents still on Christmas day. My husband and I like doing as many gifts as we can simply because neither us nor our children really get to do or buy a lot of things that we even need during the rest of the year. My husband works extra hours throughout december of every year, and so we have the CASH on hand to actually buy some of the things we've been needing and wanting.

We don't buy things on credit so we wait till we have the cash to afford things. We're also just starting to establish our OWN traditions as a family. Also we ditched the Christmas stocking idea this year because we don't see the point in buying junk a person won't use, just to fill a stocking. All the gifts we buy are things we will use.

I think I might have spent $100 on our two boys, total. They are an infant and a toddler and do need toys so we bought them good, carefully selected toys.

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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