Thanksgiving is just a week away. By Friday, many of us will have begun our Christmas shopping. How are you planning on keeping your Christmas Celebration sane and reasonable?
It seems our culture has crossed the line into excess. A friend recently told me that when her children were growing up, each October they would buy one pumpkin per kid. This year, as she went for her morning walk, she was appalled by the dozens and dozens of pumpkins adorning yards, not to mention hay bales, scarecrows, orange lights and spider webs. She was overwhelmed by the excess she saw in fall decorating.
The same thing is true of Christmas. Sometimes we cross the line into excess. Holiday baking, a wonderful part of the season, has become a burden for those of us who feel compelled to bake a different recipe for the twelve days of Christmas.
Gift giving is another area where we struggle with excess. I am asking myself this question. What is the difference between generosity and overdoing it at the holidays?
This Christmas, I want to be generous while keeping a close eye on the bank account and resisting the urge to be materialistic.
For me, this requires careful planning. Understanding how much I have to spend is a good starting point. Then, knowing what family members need or want will help me make wise choices.
A number of years ago, I heard author and speaker, Leslie Vernick, share her family’s philosophy on Christmas gift-giving. In an attempt to fight our culture’s tendency to excess and materialism, the Vernick’s adopted the three gift rule.
Each child received three gifts for Christmas. One gift was something they needed. That could be a new coat, shoes, jeans or any other necessity that would also be enjoyed. Gift two was an educational gift. Maybe a book or some music or a particular program for their computer. Gift three was something the child wanted. A new game, a toy, a gift card or a movie might be some of the options.
I like the three gift rule. I like even more that this family thought ahead and had a plan for helping their kids enjoy and navigate the holiday season without greed.
All of our children are out of the house now, so the three gift rule isn’t something we would employ. But, you may be a young mother starting out, wanting to shape your children’s attitude towards possessions. If you are a grandmother whose adult children are discussing this issue, you might want to suggest they come up with their own version of the three gift rule as a way of managing the holiday season.
A kind reader just reminded me of the story of the Magi. Jesus received three gifts on his own birthday! Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Christmas isn’t about the gifts we receive. It is about the great love of God shown to us in the manger.
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