Friday, December 18, 2009

The Gimme’s

I can’t believe how many times I have heard my four year old say, “ I want that!”  in the last few weeks.  In some ways it is kind of cute.  How can I blame her?  There are catalogs coming in the mail, commercials on TV, people asking her what she wants.  The problem is that she could not possibly get everything she wants for Christmas.  Especially when she wants every toy on the planet. 

The other kids have their own ideas.  They are wondering if we bought anything big.  With all the talk and all the hubbub about presents, how could they not be disappointed?  What about me?  Will I be satisfied with what we are able to get them? 

I think this is one of the reasons that Christmas turns from being joyful and fun to being stressful and depressing.  I get sucked into the Gimme’s too.  It’s not so much wanting things for myself anymore.  But I desire to give everyone the perfect gift and give them presents that will make them squeal with glee.  It’s easy to spend hours shopping, charge up our credit cards, and make ourselves miserable with worry.

How do we cure the Gimme’s?

I’ve been reading a debate on Santa vs. Jesus on a forum.  Some people tell their kids to pray to Jesus that Santa will bring them what they want.  Some people don’t like Santa because he’s too commercial.  They would rather tell their kids to pray that Jesus would give their mom and dad a lot of money to buy cool toys for them.  Really?  Is that all it’s about?  Are Jesus and Santa interchangeable?  Is Jesus a big cosmic vending machine?  Can you tell I don’t agree by my sarcastic questions?

The thing is we will never be able to give our kids everything they want.  Nor should we.  Even if I had a million dollars to spend at Christmas, I wouldn’t spend it all on every single thing my kids wanted.  I’m not a scrooge.  I love giving to people.  But is that what will make our Christmas happy?  If that’s what we are putting all our hope and energy into, there will definitely be disappointment Christmas morning.

We’ve simplified a lot over the years.  We don’t buy for our adult siblings or a lot of other people we used to.  It’s not that we don’t love them.  But just having less gifts to look for, wrap, ship and pay for have taken a ton of pressure off my holidays.  I found that in doing that it really is easier to enjoy all the other wonderful parts of Christmas.

Some people don’t get caught up in commercialism, but think Christmas is all about family.  As long as we’re together Christmas is great.  What if you can’t spend Christmas with your family?  Or don’t want to?  Does it then become a bad or miserable holiday?  Don’t get me wrong, I think being with family at Christmas is one of the best things.  But this year, it is not possible for us. 

Perhaps Christmas is wonderful because of traditions.  Nativity scenes, baking, outings to see Christmas displays are some fun things we like to enjoy.  Are those really the things that make Christmas the most wonderful holiday?

Christmas is not about any of the those things.  It’s not about the perfect gift, family or traditions.  Those can all be special parts of the celebration but Christmas is about Jesus.  When he was born at Christmas, it was the beginning of God’s plan to bring salvation to all of us.  Through this little baby we would be freed from the grips of sin and brought into everlasting relationship with Christ.  He came and took the condemnation we deserve so that we can go to heaven.

Even people that know and celebrate that get carried away with all the other stuff Christmas brings.  I’ve been thinking about ways to make Christmas less about the gimme’s for my family. 

I want to try to get my kids involved in giving.  And not just buying presents for their siblings or teacher.  There are selfish motives sometimes in buying presents.  We want to look good.  We want to impress people with our wonderful gift. 

I think it’s important to realize that there are kids that will not have anything under the tree Christmas morning.  Kids we will never know.  Kids that will never know where their presents came from.  There are tons of organizations out there that could use our involvement and generosity:  toys for tots, Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse. 

This year, we know several families that are struggling because of job loss and other situations.  We have the opportunity to help them.  I want our family to see the value of giving to others in need.  Even if it mean there will be less presents for them.  Even if it means there will be one less gift to someone who doesn’t need anything anyway.  It’s hard to find the time, but I love it if the kids can help shop and wrap those presents.  It helps them feel the joy of giving and takes the focus off themselves.

Matthew 6:3-4

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.  Then your Father, who sees what is done is secret, will reward you.

Since our family is going to be alone this year, we are busily inviting other orphaned people over.  It was kind of a hard thing for me at first, but I never thought it would be so much fun.  We are looking forward to adding some new friends to our Christmas.  It’s an act of giving to plan to make it special. 

Matthew 25:44-45

They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”

He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

What is your Christmas going to look like?  What are you going to do to get over the gimme’s?


Jenilee said...

It is very hard to control the gimme's over here because the girls get Christmas from so many people! But, we work really hard to keep the focus on Jesus and He is the reason we even celebrate! We kept our family Christmas simple and we keep a big focus on giving right now. Thanks for your post!

SahlbergFamily said...

We were just talking about this last night and are talking about asking for funds to take our kids on a Missions Trip over Christmas in lieu of gifts next year.

Peter and Nancy said...

I'm so happy my husband's family stopped giving presents to all the grandkids/neices/nephews a few years ago! With 7 siblings in the family (12 grandkids & one great-grand), it ended up being WAY too much stuff, to receive or to buy. Now we exchange family names or do something like a board game exchange. Much more fun -- and then we can visit more and spend less time watching presents be opened.

We only do 3 gifts per child in our family -- and we've never had our kids write letters to Santa. They know Christmas morning will be fun, but not crazy with stuff.

They're still asking for Lego sets that cost $60+ though! (So not happening!)

Becky said...

I love Go Fish's song "Its About the Cross"- it speaks exactly what you are talking about! It's a great reminder of the greatest gift of all- Jesus!