Merry start of the season to you!
While I know many of you have your gifts wrapped, house decorated and cards sent…
you know who you are…
we are just beginning the process because I am one of those who intentionally waits until after Thanksgiving to start it all.
First let me say, neither of these timings is right or wrong. It is an individual choice made by preferences and how you and yours “do Christmas.”
But we can get caught up in thinking our way is the most spiritual and cheery and let’s stop that noise right here and now.
Reality check…most of what we call our traditions have absolutely no basis in Scripture. They are sweet and wonderful and give added meaning to the celebration of Christ’s birth but they are not theology.
They can even provide a distraction if we let them become the everything of our Christmas experience and we can, with the best of intentions, completely lose the Christ of Christmas.
So in light of that, I thought I would share this week about the big “5’s” of the holidays that can lead me to forget the reason for the season.
I have made a list and I will be checking it twice, but each day I plan to touch on a topic and focus on why we do it and how we have streamlined it so it doesn’t become a hassle instead of a blessing.
So today’s topic is ….
drum roll please….
First off, I love gifts.
I love getting them and I love purchasing them.
Gifts may be my love language, although really good dark chocolate is a runner up.
And we can put a spin on this easily by spiritualizing our gift giving as a representation of the Wise Men giving gifts to Jesus…but seriously…it’s really about the fun…the wrapping paper is beautiful…shopping for just the right thing….some absolutely darling item you wouldn’t have bought for yourself but your friend did…it’s just straight up a good time for all.
But we can get carried away.
So here is what works for me:
<3 I delete about 99.9% of my emails from stores and such without ever opening them UNLESS it is for an item that is already on my shopping list.
Most of the “deals” now start weeks before Black Friday and run long, long, long after Cyber Wednesday and can put a desire in your head for an unnecessary purchase.
Suddenly you are buying things because they are such a bargain instead of because the recipient needs them…not to mention…it’s tempting to begin shopping for ourselves as well.
<3 Friend gifts are wonderful.
And many years I have purchased and delivered little things to a long list of my girlfriends – but some years I don’t.
Some years I only buy for a couple.
I love so many ladies who fill my life year round with joy.
Some years, I have the time and the thinking capacity to let each one know in this tangible gift-giving way, and some years…I just don’t.
I decided a number of years ago to not feel obligated to do for either all or none – I just pray and give accordingly and trust that I have 364 other days every year to let each one know how dear she is to me.
Russ does something that I think is very thoughtful.
Each year he reflects on the people in his daily life who have impact on him.
He zeroes in on just one and then purchases one meaningful gift and writes them a personal note about the positive influence they have had on him.
<3 I have also come to terms with receiving gifts from people and not reciprocating.
I know that sounds selfish, but hang with me.
I have determined to not give a gift out of obligation or expecting one in return and I receive gifts from other in the same spirit.
I give because I wanted to give. I don’t have a stash of gifts to give as a token in case someone shows up with something and I am empty handed.
If I give a gift it is because I thought of that person and I went and looked for something to show my love and appreciation OR I saw something that made me think of them as I was shopping.
I assume the same of those who give to me.
I have rid myself of “guilt-giving” and I hope and pray anyone who hands me a pretty package this year has done the same!
<3 When Graham was born, I was looking at the offerings for “First Christmas” ornaments and realized since his other grandma and his mom and I all have basically the same taste, chances were good he would be getting it in triplicate.
I prayed about something I could do that would be unique and came upon the idea of painting an ornament and adding a favorite picture from the year.
Since that little one would never lack for toys and gifts from the same sources mentioned above, I also decided we could donate to something and write it on the back.
So a large portion of the grandchildren’s gift budget goes for a donation to a ministry that serves others who are in dire need.
I am not a great artist, but these ornaments have become one of my favorite gifts to give.
Each year I pray over where I will donate for which child and then have fun looking through all their pictures finding one to fit each frame.
I often am rushing to finish the painting task, but it is one of the new “traditions” that truly fills me with the Joy and Hope of Christmas.
I pray that the money we send on their behalf is sowing bountifully in God’s Kingdom and that in years to come, they will look back and see a legacy of giving to those who have so little.
This is a God Idea – like all the other things I have listed.
Answers to prayer about how I can make the gift part of this season bring glory to God.
Being stressed and overextended physically, financially, emotionally…this does not honor our Lord.
What if your friends celebrated your birthday by wearing themselves to a frazzle and going into debt that will last til spring?
So now your turn….
how do you keep the gifting part of Christmas in perspective?
Talk amongst yourselves and let’s help each other grow in our understanding of areas we need to keep bringing under God’s authority even as we encourage one another to keep our focus on the Christ of Christmas <3
Guess I will….wrap this up for now…(please tell me you saw that coming…insert smile) and I will see you tomorrow <3