Christmas is a magical time of the year for children. Everywhere you travel there are elaborately decorated homes strung with glittering lights of every color. Blown up figurines of Santa and his reindeer adorn front lawns, as well as Frosty the Snowman. Spotlights illuminate Nativity scenes that are on display in the front view of a church. Doors are bedecked with ornamental wreaths. As you walk into the Mall you hear familiar Christmas carols and feel as if you are in a fantasy land as you view the elegant decor and the allure of the merchandise. It is as if every item is crying out “Buy Me, Buy Me!” And….if you happen to be going to the Mall with your kids during the Christmas season, then you’re in BIG TROUBLE, because the entire time that you are there, they are desperately trying to drag you to the toy, electronic, or clothes department to show you what they desire on Christmas morning. All I can envision is part of the poem “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Moore where he states… “The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.” I reinterpret the words as ” Visions of $$$$ dancing in my head!”
Yikes! It seems like the real meaning of Christmas can so easily be eclipsed by all of the gift buying, spending money on making everybody happy, and all of the work of getting ready for the big day. My goodness, the tasks can be quite overwhelming! There is buying all the presents. Next, wrapping them. Then, writing Christmas cards. Next, baking cookies. Of course, there is decorating the house for Christmas, after the family time of putting up the Christmas tree, and bringing up of all of the Christmas boxes, the lights, the candles, and getting up on the ladders to install the outside lights. Then, there is planning menus and cooking for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Finally, there is writing thank you notes and cleaning up. Whew! I just got tired typing this paragraph! Getting ready for Christmas is exhausting! Add to that, the Christmas musicals, kid’s performances, the parties you attend, and the extra events that you want to take part in.
The bottom line is that all of the decorations, all of the activities, all of the gifts, the baking, the cards, and the clothes for the parties cost money. Christmas is expensive! Santa Claus isn’t real and he doesn’t leave free presents under the tree. It’s parents who spend all night putting that toy kitchen set or train engine together.
I have always enjoyed buying gifts for my family. It has been a joy to buy matching dresses and pants and shirts for my grandchildren. Unfortunately, this year has to be different. This year I can’t buy the dresses and the matching outfits. This year I can’t buy all of the gifts that I would like to give to my family. Why, you may ask? I retired. With budget cuts and restrictions due to a more limited income, Christmas buying and giving this year has been viewed with a different lens. Amazingly enough, it has simplified things for me. I haven’t had to get out into the craziness of the marketplace and wait in lines and be allured by this sale item or another fantastic deal. I have had to learn to give creatively from what I have. I have always been a bargain shopper. If I see something on sale at a really good price and I know that it is something that one of my grandchildren or children would like, then I will buy it and save it to give to them at a later time. Fortunately, I have some of these items saved up, and I am making use of them for this Christmas. As a retired teacher, I have treasures of books, stuffed animals and games that my grandchildren will adore. I am also doing a lot of baking and giving baked goods as gifts.
Maybe, you are seeing “Visions of $$$ dancing in your head” and there is not enough money to go around for all of the expenses that you have at this time of the year. As hard as you want to admit it, you have to cut back. You can’t buy all of the gifts that your kids want under the tree on Christmas morning, and it breaks your heart. You know I am beginning to see that less is better. It’s o.k. to limit the amount of items that kids will receive. Alison Wood has created the blog, “Pint-sized Treasures”. She writes that as a mom that she often struggles with giving her kids too much or not enough, and that she often wonders what the balance should be. Can you relate? She wonders if she spends too much money could she be causing her child to become materialistic or would she simply be showing her love. So, to help her with this situation she created a Christmas Wish List. It is a list that helps parents and kids keep the right attitude and perspective during the biggest gift-giving and receiving time on earth- Christmas!
The Wish List is a list that the kids are given to fill out themselves. It also helps kids to distinguish what an actual need and want is in reality. Parents can also fill out a list. The list contains the following items:
- Something to wear:____________________
- Something to read:____________________
- Something you want:__________________
- Something you need:__________________
- Something to give:____________________
For the Something to Wear item this would be something that would be a very special clothing item. Maybe a really nice sweater that your daughter had been longing for, or those hiking boots that your son had been eyeing in the catalog.
For Something to Read make it an amazing book that your child would grow in knowledge or have joy in reading. Maybe your son loves sharks, so you go and purchase an awesome shark book with phenomenal photographs. Your daughter loves dancing, so you find a book about dancing, and ballerinas, that is absolutely mesmerizing.
For Something you Need ask your child to name something he or she needs. With kids there is always something that they need. A friend of mine always got new underwear under the tree. I always bought my sons new socks and put them in their stockings.
For Something You Want, this is the difficult area, because your child can only write down one item. Other relatives can purchase want items. This can also be a time when your child can learn patience in waiting until his or her birthday to receive the other items that he or she would like. It can also be an opportunity for a parent to begin giving an allowance for chores done in the house and your child learning to save money, learning to tithe money to the church, and learning to spend money. The money saved can go in a piggy bank and be saved up for one of the “wants” that the child has.
For Something to Give this is the area where Alison wanted the kids to focus on others. Christmas is more than just receiving gifts. It is a time of thinking about others. There are needs all around us. Many kids won’t have a Christmas like you or me. Help your child brainstorm about who to give to and what to give. If money is an issue you can make a gift or a card for someone or bake cookies or cranberry bread to give to someone. Christmas coupons can be made as well. Giving to the Salvation Army outside of Walmart could be an example or making a bag full of items for the homeless and giving the bag to a homeless person could be another idea. Maybe there is an elderly lady or man in your church or neighborhood. Your child could rake their yard, bake cookies, or make a Christmas card for them.
I have the Wish list as one of my resources at the end of my post.
Oh my, have you noticed what has happened? We have been so busy frantically putting up the tree, decorating our homes, baking the cookies, writing the cards, preparing for the programs, buying and wrapping the gifts that it has been so easy to forget what the real reason for the season is.
JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11
Jesus was born on Christmas Day. The Messiah, God’s son came to earth to die and forgive us of our sins. Jesus was the greatest gift ever given to mankind. He was born for you and for me to be our Savior. What a wondrous gift!
I have listed some resources below that you can use for gift giving in this Christmas season.
May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand.