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Christmas Gift Giving

It’s November 21, three days before Thanksgiving, and my Christmas shopping is done! (Well, almost, I still need to pick up a couple of things for the grandchildren.)  I must confess though, that it is completed so early because we are having Christmas at Thanksgiving, so if you look at it realistically, I am still doing last minute shopping!

We love giving gifts at Christmas.  We love searching the stores and the internet to find presents that we think will delight the ones we love, and we love searching to find the best deals on the items that are on the Christmas lists that we ask our children and grandchildren to give us.  As we wrap each present we think about the loved one who will open it and ponder on good memories of past Christmases.  It is so much fun spending time as a family gathered around the tree singing, laughing, and watching everyone open their gifts.  Our tradition of giving gifts has never been about what we are going to get, but we just love to give presents to those we love.  When our first grandchild was about two, he was so excited when we came to his house for Christmas.  He was not anticipating the presents we were going to give him instead he couldn’t wait for us to open the present that he was giving to us.  Christmas would still be meaningful even if we did not give each other gifts, but we are celebrating, Jesus, the greatest gift of all, so gift giving gifts helps us to remember God’s love for us.

Here are some things we have done to help relieve the “bah humbug” spirit that can ruin Christmas gift giving.

  1. Budget for Christmas. From the beginning of our marriage we set aside an amount each month to save for Christmas.  That way when it came time to buy presents, there was always money available.  Of course some years there may have been more than others.  On the years that the budget was tight, we just spent a little less or made gifts for Christmas.   If your budget is tight remember that your gift doesn’t necessarily have to be an object.  It can be a service.  You can give promise slips such as a gift to your great grandmother to visit her at least once a month for the coming year, or you can give a gift to your niece that you will take her to the park once a month.  Be creative.  Gift giving is all about giving love and what better what to give love than to give your time to someone. 
  2. Make gift giving a family game.  With our extended family each adult brings a $20 gift and we play the Chinese gift exchange game.  If everyone’s budget is really low you can bring white elephant gifts, recycled books or games (that are still in good condition), or just recycle a gift that you received before (just make sure that you don’t recycle the sweater your mother-in-law gave you last Christmas!)
  3. Don’t wait until the last minute to do your shopping.  Mike and I made it a tradition to schedule a Christmas shopping get-away when our kids were little. We set a time in October or early in November.  We took off of work on Friday, got the grandparents to keep the kids and went to Dallas to spend the day doing our “Santa Shopping”.  On Friday night we ate at a special restaurant and spent the night at a nice hotel.  Each year we looked forward to this time.  We put it on the calendar and made sure nothing interfered with our “Santa Shopping” weekend.  This way we looked forward to shopping and did it together which made it a lot more fun.
  4. Shop online.  It takes less time to surf the internet and compare prices than it does to drive from store to store.  You can often find great deals and free shipping.  Then it is fun to watch the packages delivered right to your door.  Just be sure you start early enough so your packages have time to arrive before you exchange gifts.

If you think of Christmas shopping as an opportunity to show love instead of as a chore that you have to do, you will find that your spirit will be a little more joyful and shopping more enjoyable.  As in anything you do, attitude plays an important role.

We do have to admit that gift giving can sometimes be a very stressful tradition.  Crowded stores, rude shoppers, hard to find gifts, staying within the budget, and last minute deadlines can make Christmas shopping sometimes seem more like a chore than a privilege.  When those times come we have to stop and remind ourselves of a song, “Christmas is a Time for Love”.  We use to sing this song when our family traveled together presenting concerts.  One verse said, “We often get discourage and sometimes get upset when things don’t all go right on Christmas Day, but what we should remember in all the push and shove is Christmas is a time for love.”

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