Celebrating Christmas Without Presents

Celebrating Christmas Without Presents
 

 

This year we are starting the tradition of forgoing traditional Christmas presents. As extreme as it may sound for some, we feel it is absolutely right for our family.

 

Christmas 2011

 

For me, all of the excitement leading up to Christmas Day is what I love the most.

First, we have Halloween, which, for us, ends up being more about buying pumpkins and dressing up than anything else. It’s a costume party to kick off the season: fun.

 

Second is Thanksgiving. This always has been my least favorite holiday, but I’ve learned to appreciate it for what it is… The month of November makes me think of rustic farms, fall harvests, fresh apple cider, and the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin pie.

 

All other holidays lead up to the big event – Christmas. I go into full nostalgia and tradition mode during this time. Even getting a holiday themed coffee is a big deal for me. I love the food, the smells, family reuniting, and the spirit of the season.

 

The problem is when Christmas Day comes.  We have presents piled high in anticipation of Christmas morning. It takes a few hours to open them. Sometimes it is stressful occasion, sometimes it is euphoric, but it only takes a few hours and then the holiday crash hits. It’s over. There is some sort of Christmas hangover mixed with depression (and for some people major debt) that sinks in once everything is over.

 

As Christians, we are aware that we are missing the entire point of the celebration. To me, Easter has always been a more important holiday (faith-wise) than Christmas, so I guess that was my reasoning behind partaking in all of the gluttony.

 

I spoke to my family about this and everyone agreed how we were celebrating hasn’t felt right in awhile. We’ve decided this year we will be opting out of presents for each other. Not only is it unnecessary, we want to teach our children (who are given more than needed throughout the year, but especially on this day) that this day is not about them, solely.

 

 

But, I don’t think the secular traditions I’m enjoying are the part that really needs to be worked on. It’s the day of Christmas itself. We have gotten so lost in giving within our protected circle of friends and family that I feel we’ve lost the intrinsic meaning of this entire season. I don’t even mean celebrating the birth of Jesus (which most theologians believe was actually in mid-late spring). I am speaking more about what the birth represents. It is everything Jesus had taught us from the time he was born until he was crucified. It is community and fellowship with one another and celebrating the faithfulness of God. It is true global community and human redemption.

 

There is personal joy in this day that should never be condemned, but it is about coming together in full community with others. I would even argue it is about giving, because of the self-righteous connotation the word holds for me, personally. It’s about loving one another. It is reciprocal. We are blessed to give and to receive. Our culture has taught us “it is better to give than to receive,” but I feel those words teach subtly that we do not need to rely on one another if we are (by Western standards) successful in life, but we should give and feel good about ourselves. To me, the idea behind “it is better to give than to receive” perpetuates the myth we should all have a lack of dependence on human beings, and also gives the impression of a self-importance that detracts from everything good about true philanthropy (which by true root definition means to love human beings).

 

Now that we have decided to not exchange presents this year, we are taking the next step to try to figure out what the day will hold for us. Since we are preaching about community, that is exactly what we are going to do: spend time with others out of our comfortable social circle of friends and family. We have to decide exactly where and what we will be doing. This is not a charity case, we don’t believe in that. We are going into the world to be a part of it.

 

I remember my dad (who learned this phrase from his dad) would see someone walking past us who may have had a more difficult life than we were experiencing and he would say, “By the grace of God, there goes I.” It always stuck with me because the phrase is rooted in empathy.  We need to realize that we are connected with everyone through global community. Strangers should be viewed as brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors…we are connected. Human problems are our problems. When someone needs uplifting, as their friend, we uplift them. Period. This is not about throwing some money at a “problem” or donating your time serving soup so you can feel good about yourself. 

 

No, this is about building lasting relationships with people who are sharing this time on this planet with us, realizing that we are connected, and that we could easily be in their place. How would we want to be treated? I would want people who genuinely cared about me helping empower and encourage me so my life could be uplifted to the place where I am living the best I can for who I am. Once we start valuing ourselves and valuing the people around us in the same way, we will all thrive.

 

 


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39 comments

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  1. Hannah 12 November, 2012, 07:30

    My family (my parents and siblings) opted out of gifts for each other a long time ago. We started by donating to a charity that we felt the other person would appreciate. We moved to funding a gift together for the community (a park bench donated in honor of my grandparents) and finally purchasing my grandmother (92) a recliner. In the past, we have spend the day volunteering at a soup kitchen, etc which is a great way to “celebrate” without the need for gifts.
    My immediate family (husband and son) will be celebrating Christmas because my husband’s family sees the present exchange as vital to the holiday. It always makes me incredibly uncomfortable as I feel that we have more than enough already but it is important to them so we will continue to exchange gifts.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 15 November, 2012, 00:28

      What great ideas, Hannah. It is nice to know there are other people who have done this for years and it is working for them.

      Reply this comment
  2. Ashlee 12 November, 2012, 08:26

    I relate to this so much. We have decided to simplify Christmas this year, as it’s our first Christmas being parents and we want to set the right tradition for our family. We are giving each other four gifts: something we want, something we need, something to wear, and something to read. We’ve asked our family members to gift us experiences instead of things (zoo membership, baby yoga passes, art classes, etc). A local friend of mine is organizing a group of people to hand out hot chocolate to the homeless on Christmas day and I think we’ll bundle up the baby and do that for a while as well. Good thoughts!

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 15 November, 2012, 00:29

      We’re both up for something new this year! How cool! let me know what you guys end up doing and how it works out. Or better yet, I’ll read it on your blog if you capture some of the day on film!

      Reply this comment
  3. Jeniffer Smith 12 November, 2012, 08:55

    We’re also foregoing presents on Christmas this year, but we’ll be giving them on New Year’s instead to celebrate the coming year. We’ve decided that Christmas will be a day celebrating family and, yes, when our girls are older, investing in others. I’m really excited to see how our family’s Christmas will look like, how it will change over time, and what our girls will think of it.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 15 November, 2012, 00:31

      I think it is really a great idea to see Christmas evolving as the years go by and not sticking to one thing everyone has to do…especially how stressful it can be. Some catalogs were just mailed to us for the holiday season and it felt so good to drop them in the recycling. It’s not what the day is about.

      Reply this comment
  4. Tina 12 November, 2012, 09:22

    Ugh, I feel ya on this one. Every year my family has moved a step away from the traditional Americized Christmas celebration. Yet I don’t think we have gotten it right just yet. We take certain things out, and we’ve added others. But still, its like we’re missing something every year. We’ve done and undone all kinds of things. Decorated, not decorated, tree, no tree, Joshua tree, limited gifts, (haven’t completely done away with gifts yet), done all sorts of charity service, gifts for the needy, shoeboxes, toys for tots, homemade gifts, told the kids the truth about Santa even. Advent conspiracy is what spurred our journey a few years back. We’re not their yet, but I think we’re getting there. Of course I know we may never come to a place that we are satisfied with Christmas. Its good to wrestle with things like this though. Thanks for writing about your family’s Christmas, I look forward to reading more!

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 15 November, 2012, 00:33

      Tina, I haven’t even done it yet, and already I can relate to you. I think it may take a little searching and praying to try and figure out what that day should mean for all of us.

      Reply this comment
  5. Kirbie 12 November, 2012, 18:29

    BEAUTIFUL!

    Reply this comment
  6. Lara (australia) 12 November, 2012, 18:47

    Yes, Yes, Yes and more Yeses!
    Now you are really talking Jamie, this is such a great topic and I couldn’t agree more.
    My family and I have for the past few years have ceased to give presents, and have made our day more about fun, love, laughter and togetherness, along with a good dose of gratitude for just being together and sharing our love.
    Christmas is a time to “see” each other, and to see ourselves in others as your father so beautifully reminds us.
    I truly wish this story you wrote could be discussed as widely as “Are You Mum Enough?” as what you have broached is more about how we can actually change our society and our world, one family at a time.
    More brilliance from your place in the sun my friend.
    Thanks for sharing xox

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 15 November, 2012, 00:36

      Aw Thank you Lara! I just love to hear others have done this for awhile now. I wish we would have thought of it earlier. It makes so much sense!

      How have you been?

      Reply this comment
  7. kara 12 November, 2012, 21:16

    Just discovered your blog and love this post. I was particularly struck by your comments on the Western connotations of “giving” and “receiving.” The value placed on independence in our culture is quite intense and pervasive if one is looking for it. I believe our society can only truly progress if values like that are constantly scrutinized, tested, and allowed to evolve.

    Reply this comment
  8. Jacob 13 November, 2012, 09:08

    As a non-practicing Catholic bordering on Agnosticism, this was a really refreshing read. I can agree with pretty much everything you’ve said, even without believing in the same source of your reasoning. Christmas for me and my family was always about the gluttony of the season, too, up until a few years ago when my parents were both jobless. The piles of presents were replaced with one or two small gifts. But those little things meant more to me than the previous stacks of things because I could appreciate them more and because it forced my parents to really think about what they wanted to buy, and were able to come up with something more meaningful.

    This year we aren’t buying gifts. We’re making them. Because, to paraphrase your strongest and most beautiful sentiment, this shouldn’t be about “throwing money at it.”

    Thank you for the uplifting post.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 15 November, 2012, 00:45

      Jacob I just realized the title of your blog and I am laughing really hard. Totally took me off-guard.

      Thank you so much!

      I love hearing about what you guys are doing this year. I Definitely agree presents aren’t wrong, but we need to be able to have that same sort of gratitude you had the one year you didn’t have as many. Thank you for sharing.

      Reply this comment
  9. Cynthia 14 November, 2012, 11:49

    My husband and I decided that we wouldn’t do Christmas presents for our children. We’re Christian’s and we think the real reason for the season gets washed out if all our children look forward to are the presents under the tree. We’ve, repeatedly, asked others to avoid gift giving for our children at Christmas… No one has ever listened. Now we just make sure that everyone only gives one gift, instead of fighting them. We still give a gift to each child in our circle of friends and family, we can’t choose how they want to celebrate Christmas.

    So, our children get a few gifts from grandparents, aunts and uncles… But we make the rest of our Christmas time about spending our time with loved ones. We do everything else, decorate, eat several giant meals, watch Christmas movies… Just no presents. We also read the story of Jesus’ birth and we privately participate in Hanukkah, since our Lord is Jewish.

    This year our daughter is old enough to understand Operation Christmas Child, so we’re going to do that with her and continue that tradition as all of our children get older. Our church also has a toy drive, so we donate to that as well. I do feel like there’s something else we should be doing, but we haven’t figured it out yet.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 15 November, 2012, 00:46

      Cynthia, what great ideas! Again, it is great to hear so many people already doing this. I feel I’m joining this movement late! ;-)

      Reply this comment
  10. AJ 14 November, 2012, 17:46

    Really enjoyed and agreed with the article, but I wanted to share:

    “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” – Acts 20:35

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 15 November, 2012, 00:52

      Yes! Paul was repeating something Jesus said that was not found in the gospels, which I believe he did say. However, I think at least for me, the message he was trying to give to the people of the time is lost in current culture with out total lack of dependence for one another. Receiving something from someone else for a lot of people is a sign of weakness in our culture. I think we need to embrace receiving again.

      Reply this comment
  11. Jamie Lyn 14 November, 2012, 19:37

    I, too, have felt the incongruity in what I believe and what my family does to celebrate Christ’s birth. I hope you will share how your family works through this. I am very interested in hearing your thoughts and experiences.

    Reply this comment
  12. Jamie Lyn 14 November, 2012, 21:22

    By the way, I forgot until after I posted and went back to my blog reader that your name is Jamie Lynne, too. I promise that I’ve been “Jamie Lyn” to all my friends and family for 35 years now (some of us Southerners really DO have double names!). Since it seems you’ve had a few…interesting…people coming through the comments in the last few months, I didn’t want you to think I was some new stalker going Single White Female on you! ;)

    Reply this comment
  13. Zoe - SlowMama 15 November, 2012, 07:20

    This is great, Jamie. I’m eager to hear how it changes your experience of Christmas as a family!

    I have tried for a long time to simplify Christmas significantly. I love the tradition of gift-giving because I think it’s in keeping with celebrating a birthday and one of the themes of Christmas — giving and receiving. In our home we’ve tried hard to reduce the effects of the commercialization of Christmas by celebrating Advent (a beautiful season that prepares your heart for Christmas), minimizing shopping, and staying away from a lot of the Santa/overboard stuff that goes on for the six weeks prior.

    With our girls, I want to keep the focus on the story of the nativity, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, meaningful traditions, relaxed time family and friends, and giving/being present to those in need. I want to keep gift-giving simple, focusing more on special/thoughtful/homemade gifts that are personal. I have moved more to this for family and friends over the years and it’s really appreciated.

    This has inspired me to do my own post on the subject!

    xoxo

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 20 November, 2012, 11:04

      We are still trying to figure out exactly what we will do, but I’ll let you know when we decide!

      I love the idea of simplifying. We definitely are going to jump into the holiday cheer, but the day itself is going to be reevaluated. No presents, but instead of just removing something that isn’t working, we want to add what does work and have that be the focus. This is a positive change!

      I can’t wait to read your post!

      Reply this comment
  14. Sam 18 November, 2012, 05:34

    Nice and refreshing article but I still expect gifts from Santa :-D (and I am 18 btw) and oh yeah a belated Halloween and Thanksgiving to u and ur family from my side.God Bless !!!

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 20 November, 2012, 11:04

      Hah, my kids know we’re Santa. He still comes, but I am not sure if we’ll do that this year.

      Reply this comment
  15. Tracey 19 November, 2012, 12:33

    Your post resonates with me today. We live in NJ, not far from the destruction brought by the storm Sandy. As the holiday season advertising deluge begins juxtaposed with images of homes washed away and families cope with catastrophic losses, I’ve been thinking of foregoing the usual Christmas shopping and providing to where it’s really needed. Recovery.
    Thanks. Best of Holiday wishes to you and yours.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 20 November, 2012, 11:09

      Oh Tracey, I know…I haven’t been to the East Coast to see the destruction, but I imagine you guys are getting bombarded with conflicting information. People are homeless and also being bombarded with images of material items they “need” diamond earrings… It is too bad the media couldn’t reevaluate their own tactics this year to be a little more respectful for those who really do have needs (like shelter!) and focus on that. Of course that would never happen….

      However the disparity of areas like that is something I will never get used to.

      Reply this comment
  16. Ronni 24 November, 2012, 19:18

    I honestly think Adam would be 100% OK with not getting gifts for anyone. He always seems to regard it as an annoying chore… but he loves GETTING gifts. Go figure.

    I enjoy giving gifts. For me, giving is part of a gift for ME, so I’d feel sad if I couldn’t give. I love picking out the perfect thing and making people happy. But then, we all have SO MUCH STUFF already, so we really need more?

    It’s such a delicate line. I don’t ever want to be the kind of person who’ll fight with others at a store over cheap electronics. But I don’t want to judge how other people celebrate their holidays either.

    I love what you said about receiving and embracing it. You’re so right that receiving is VERY looked down in this culture. Especially if it’s something someone has deemed the receiver not worthy of getting.

    A lot to think about.

    Reply this comment
  17. Rene 26 November, 2012, 08:58

    Hello! Over here we’re also trying to decide how we want to celebrate Christmas. We both enjoy the decorations but we don’t do much in the way of gifting, and since there are no kiddos yet it’s a bit easier since we don’t feel the pull of buying a bunch of gifts ( my friends with kids say I’ll feel it when I have them) Anyways, this year I had the pleasure of checking out this blog series – 31 days to redeeming Christmas – http://prairiejuan.wordpress.com/31-days-to-redeeming-christmas/
    It isn’t for everyone but she does have some great thoughts on how to lose a bit of the commercialism and stress that the Holiday season brings to so many!

    Reply this comment
  18. Sue 27 December, 2012, 23:12

    Wow, you are a wonderful person! I love your insight. FYI I’m a 25-year-old female, Catholic, single, not a mother (to give you an idea of where my perspective is coming from).

    I looked up your blog awhile back, after being curious about the Time Magazine controversial cover. I also watched your interview while you were sitting next to Dr. Bill Sears, some months later.

    It’s a funny thing that happened to me. At first glance of that Time Magazine cover, I was turned off. “This is controversial,” I thought. But it took me awhile to get down to *why* I believed that, and for awhile I was thoroughly confused. So because of my confusion I kept coming back to it.

    Then I realized, attachment parenting is actually a very *very* wonderful concept, and the point of the supposed provocative photo on the magazine cover was to force people to think and talk about it (you pointed out that isn’t what you look like when you breast-fed Aram).

    My psychology professor then pointed out, is it really altogether a provocative photo, or is that just based on our own take (us adults) of it? The three-year-old obviously doesn’t have a sexual perspective of the world (rather he’s doing what three-year-olds do which is: attaching). This also leads to the uncomfortableness adults feel about women breastfeeding in public; there isn’t anything wrong with it between mother and child at any level, it is just that adults have a problem with it because they are more sexually developed, and sometimes believe the environment around them ought to be sensitive to their much more sexually developed perspectives (but ought we not to be much more sensitive to the developing attaching child?).

    I haven’t heard of attachment parenting before seeing that article cover, and I just want to say that I like what you’ve done, and if I were to be a mother sometime in the future, I would like to also practice attachment parenting.

    After seeing much of the bullying occurring in the schools (and too often the extreme results of that such as the recent massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut), I hope that you continue to provoke people into thinking very seriously about attachment parenting these days, and their benefits. Being that you have your foot in the door with the media, I sincerely hope to see more of you making a really big difference, most especially for the sake and for the safety of our children.

    God bless, and thanks.

    -Sue

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 28 December, 2012, 22:59

      Hey Sue!

      What a wonderful perspective you have. Thank you so much for sharing. I absolutely loved to hear what you had to say. Thank you for your thoughts and concerns. I agree. I think if more people knew really what “attachment parenting” entails they would not find it strange or extreme at all.

      Reply this comment
      • Sue 29 December, 2012, 02:35

        This may seem like (either) an insignificant (or) self-centered detail, but I also forgot to add that I’m American born, half white and half Chinese. The reason I mention this, is because of the interesting confusion I dealt with as a child (why do I feel at peace with my Asian grandma who helped raise me, and why does my white side of the family seem formal and cold)? There’s something about a significant? part of Western culture which seems to desire that children detach and become independent as soon as possible, and there is a desire from many parents to push that.

        I’ve observed from some of your blogs that you yourself were raised through attachment parenting. I come from the other end of the spectrum, where there was a lot of abuse, alcoholism, misogyny, neglect, divorce (my parents are now divorced), etc. Not surprisingly, I am working toward a psychology major and have recently discovered that much of my life was spent very cautiously looking for a more (thorough) form of attachment (this connected to an obsessive interest I used to have in exploring different religions as a teenager, but even after settling with Catholicism I discovered that not all Christians, if not most folks of any religious group or philosophy or “lack of religion” or “school of logic” or whatever, are not necessarily going to exhibit non-fear-based attributes… even if their “family” group promotes the contrary). Yet even before my philosophical religious searches, I always observed the differences in my bicultural family and observed that Westerners were less likely to use attachment parenting and so Westerners were therefore, scary (this I concluded as a child, without fully articulating it that way of course).

        I find it fascinating how individuals such as yourself (the result of attachment parenting, or perhaps through similar forms of fulfillment later in life?) are naturally able to exhibit commonly known virtuous attributes such as kindness while *simultaneously* exhibiting inherent awareness of your own self-worth without even feeling a need to be be flamboyant about the latter (while individuals like me consciously read about this in books, and then practice it over and over the way I might now teach myself a foreign language). The combination of such attributes seems to create a much more thoroughly effective form of kindness, unlike the prevalent superficial displays of it which many of us are subconsciously jaded by yet willingly accept (even for ourselves and sometimes even for our children) because the superficial or more fear-inclined version of kindness is ultimately *socially acceptable* (and for some of us, this is all that we know exists). As for the more thorough version, individuals such as myself try to achieve it mostly by *unlearning* many unhealthy patterns through *being* – and then there is also the realization that growth must always be progressing, for stagnancy is actually regression in, I think, every sense (i.e. the state of one’s health, the state of a relationship, the use of any language whether written or spoken, etc.). In other words, maybe, stagnancy is an illusion which ultimately doesn’t exist?

        Anyway, I hope that more thorough picture of my perspective paints a better picture of why my profound excitement for attachment parenting exists (as well as for such a well-rounded capable advocate of it such as yourself). I am very excited at the discovery of attachment parenting, that it exists, that there is a name for it and everything, and that I no longer have the feeling that I’m looking for something but have no idea what it is (at least, not at the previous extent anyway).

        I look forward to your blogs, up-and-coming bestseller books, or whatever resources you decide to put out. If the universal instinctive method (for any mildly intelligent human being) of solving any problem is to attack the problem at its root, then what better root are we talking about (in terms of a society of individual human beings) when we are dealing with the very formation of these individuals (destined to uphold a future society) at their crucial very first years of life?

        Thank you again.

        -Sue

        Reply this comment
  19. karen schanding 4 April, 2013, 10:39

    I have been feeling much the same way about Christmas for the last few years. We had a family meeting and agreed we would each only get 2 presents from now on (one thing we want and one thing we need.) The rest of the money we normally spend on Christmas gifts would go to help others. The time we normally spent shopping would be spent together as a family helping others. We also started looking for non profits to support throughout the year. On January 1st we got 3 large mason jars and started putting money in them. Any time we have spare change, birthday money or even find money under a cushion it goes into the jars. My children are excited when they find pennies on the street because they can put it in the jar of their choice. We also deduct $30.00 from each paycheck for each jar. We have several hundred dollars in each jar already. A friend told us about a family who could use some help so we have a jar for them. We have a jar for Ethiopian focused charities and a jar for Heifer International. We are also saving money to adopt a child from Ethiopia. At first I was a bit worried that we would stop saving for our adoption, but that hasn’t happened. We actually now put a teeny bit more money each month into our adoption savings account. My husband, girlies and I are already finding this so exciting and satisfying. Yesterday my 9 year old unexpectantly received $15.00 in the mail from a relative for Easter. She said.. “Oh look mumsie, this is going to buy someone in Ethiopia clean water.” My eyes filled with happy tears….best Christmas present ever!!

    Reply this comment
  20. James Peter 24 September, 2013, 12:43

    Wow!! The stress is already building as the season grows near. I think like so many of the others that it is so hard to say no to gift giving. It is no wonder we are thought of as the nation of greed in so many other countries. Come on – The Easter Bunny….a pagan time of worship to the God Planet Venus and Fertility. Halloween…All Saints Day…Supposedly when Jesus gave up his life on the cross, those who believed in Christ came out of the graves. Okay, so now we have Zombies, Vampires and Skeletons!! Then comes the Big One the birthday. Christmas, the overweight, “how fitting” big lie disappointment, trust breaker, we call SANTA…OMG how am I going to tell the kids I’ve been lying? It is definitely a joy to watch there little faces waiting for Santa and try as I may on that day Santa seems to trump the birth of Jesus.

    After all that rambling, Sorry, I have an idea for giving. Please let me know what you think. What if we took things we already own that are precious to us and gave them away to another family member or friend or better yet to someone in need !!

    Bye now gotta go get an early start on the Christmas Shopping

    Reply this comment
  21. Kimberly 9 October, 2013, 06:46

    I always enjoy reading your posts. This one was particularly interesting.

    Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who associate guilt and debt with Christmas. I believe much of this is due to the fact that most of the western world celebrates Christmas in self-centered, materialistic ways. However, gift giving is not the problem.

    Christmas is about the gift of self. That is the example set for us by Christ in his birth, his life, and his death.

    This of course is not merely metaphorical. Christ gave his literal body, yes, but Christ also gave people things. Food, clothing, shelter, touch, attention, eye contact, encouraging words, freedom, forgiveness… All too often, I fear people devalue the importance of the material. But we are both material and spiritual. The spiritual is not better than the material. We are both, and everything God created he said was “Good.”

    Maybe in our overabundance we lose sight of how richly blessed we are, and in so doing, express ungratefulness and animosity toward that which God intended to be a blessing.

    For instance, what, might I ask, is wrong with charity? Charity means generosity, benevolence, love. And why is it wrong to feel good when you help someone else? The things God wanted us to enjoy he made enjoyable…and those things just happen to be the very things that are necessary for life. Not everyone has enough, so God made sharing/giving enjoyable. There is nothing wrong with that.

    I worry when my friends say they aren’t exchanging gifts at all. What about the family members whose primary love language is gifts?

    I don’t believe gifts have to be purchased, however. For friends threatening to forego gift giving, I usually recommend exchanging gifts you’ve creatively made from items around your house. Homemade cards with personal messages in them to each other, is a special gift. A scrapbook/photo album to which you add, over the years, photos and memorable notes about the years. “I am thankful for…” followed by a list of ways in which you are thankful for that person. (This is could be for thanksgiving, too.) There are lots of creative things you can do/make for one another. My husband, for instance, doesn’t care about gifts; but if I make cinnamon rolls for breakfast Christmas morning, he’s truly blessed.

    Though all of that is good, there is something to be said about learning balance. Christmas doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Since our first Christmas together, my husband and I decided we would give each other–and our children–one gift each. We’ve never gone into debt for Christmas. And I believe limiting the number of gifts you receive makes the one gift you receive special. We, also, have our daughters purchase gifts for one child in the local community–usually a new school outfit and a toy. It is challenging for children to enter a store around the holidays and think about what someone else would like, and then buy it for them, without asking for/purchasing anything for themselves. But through this, they learn empathy and generosity…and it’s something they enjoy. They, now, think it’s fun and look forward to it, each year.

    All in all, I think the conviction you’ve shared here is good. It is important to keep our focus where it belongs. I’m just saying, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Because babies are wonderful!

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 9 October, 2013, 08:42

      Hey Kimberly! Thank you for such a thoughtful comment!

      This post as actually from last year! We tried it and loved it, so we’re doing it again!

      Presents are awesome, we just do it enough throughout the year where we don’t feel like it is adding anything to the day. It definitely is not for every family, though. We do understand that!

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  22. Amanda 23 December, 2013, 15:13

    Thank you for the great ideas. I’ve been wanting to focus on service and charity but felt overwhelmed when thinking of trying to explain this to my family.

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