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ChristmaSpirit

Gift Giving at Christmas

Gift giving may be the most difficult subject to deal with appropriately at Christmas in America, for several reasons. There are reasons to give generously. The Holy Book says “It is better to give than to receive.” And “give gifts to the poor.” The Lord Himself best exemplifies giving by giving to us “every good and perfect gift” every day. Therefore, generous giving, at its core, is a holy, honorable, virtuous and righteous act. However, whether the giving that happens during American Christmas is a holy, honorable, virtuous and righteous act is another question. Most of the giving is done to kids who already have way more toys and clothes than they need. And by catering to the whining “I want this,” “I want that,” we may actually be facilitating, empowering or enabling greedy behavior in our own children, and covetous behavior in other children. I have certainly been guilty of it.

A further negative to Christmas gift-giving is the negative impact it has on the family budget. Many people give beyond what their ability is, and beyond what they should. This practice creates debt and financial bondage in the following months. Read more on this at financial websites.

http://www.crown.org/Library/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=317

http://www.crown.org/Library/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=349

http://www.daveramsey.com/etc/cms/index.cfm?intContentID=3204

So the question arises as to how to deal with gift-giving at Christmas in America. Some advocate reducing or ceasing gift giving, in order to focus on Christ more. If you want to step back from gifts for children being the central focus of Christmas, you need to do it in a wise way. It would be easy for you to be perceived as a killjoy, greedy person, Scrooge, etc.

When dealing with your own children there is probably some danger that if you were to stop all gift giving that they would feel left out and/or cheated because you made the holiday be totally spiritual. That sense would be propagated when they get around other kids at school who tell what they did and what they got for Christmas. And they could possibly carry some animosity into adulthood regarding it. So you must be wise with this point, so that they feel good about focusing on Jesus. It seems to me that reducing gift-giving at Christmas would only be workable if you have a family that is already focused on spiritual things throughout the year for a few years at least, so that they have a foundation and framework within which to process the emphasis on Jesus during Christmas.

Then you also have the extended family to deal with, as it relates to gifts. We have found that if you prepare months in advance the adults are often willing to stop the gift exchanging between adults. But stopping the giving to the kids in the extended family can be a very emotional issue. I would definitely save that one for last, if you want to do it. If you are going to do that, you need to have a laid several years of foundation working toward that and have the cooperation of most, if not all adults involved. I would only do that if you replace it with well-planned activities celebrating the birth of Jesus. Again, once you make a decision to try to turn your future Christmases toward a focus on Christ, I wouldn't recommend ceasing gift giving in the extended family the first year, unless everyone is in agreement and the children involved are just babies.

If you give Christmas gifts, it's a great opportunity to glorify Christ. Buying gifts that turn others' hearts toward Christ is easier than you might think. You just have to go to the right place, or right website. If you go to a normal retail spot like Walmart or Amazon.com, then you may not find it easy to buy things that turn the receiver's heart to Christ, though those places will usually have a few things, if you look around some. But if you go to a Christian store, you will find many things that turn one's heart toward Christ. (The time to buy them really cheap is in the 2 weeks following Christmas. While you're returning or exchanging Christmas gifts that you received, just swing buy the Christian bookstore for great deals for next year's Christmas. And you can even sometimes find good deals on a few spiritual things in regular stores at that time of year.) Many of the following things with Christian themes can be found in a Christian bookstore:

Videos, (the Veggie Tales video, "The Toy that Saved Christmas" is great)
Plaques, pictures, figurines, and other wall, table, or shelf decor
Candles
Mugs, glasses, plates
Bibles
Devotional books, spiritual books
Calendars
T-shirts and caps with slogans
Tree ornaments
Jewelry and pins to wear on your clothes
Music

When you give any Christmas gift to your children or anyone, tell them in your own words that you are giving it because God gave the greatest gift by giving His Son Jesus to us to come to the world to save us from our sins, if we believe in Him. Make it ceremonious and traditional.

Links to sites that sell spiritual Christmas gifts

Lifeway

Zondervan

Family Christian Stores

Christianbook.com

http://www.planeticthus.com



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