Christmas Thoughts: On Gifts

5 Dec

I’d like to do a short series in the month of December featuring various thoughts I have about Christmas. Here’s the first installation. 

christmas_thoughts_gifts

If I had a penny for every time I heard a Christian lament the gift-giving frenzy that is Christmas in America, I’d be able to buy every Christmas gift I’ve ever wanted.

Don’t get me wrong – I agree that Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Week, and Christmas shopping in general are out of control. Even though I’ve gone shopping on Black Friday the past 3-4 years (at a respectable hour like 6 am), I refuse to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I just can’t imagine ever wanting to buy something so bad that I have to miss out on family time to get it. But I digress…

I think that as Christians, it is tempting to swing the opposite direction of our culture and think that gift-giving at Christmas is bad. I myself, for one, have had the thought during more than one Christmas, “If Christmas isn’t really about the gifts, why are we [meaning my family] still doing that whole thing? Why don’t we just do away with gifts entirely?”

But I think that mindset is missing the point. The problem with Christmas gifts is not that the act of giving gifts is wrong – it’s that the gifts have become ends in themselves. They are often no longer a way to show another person that we care enough about them to spend the time, energy and money to buy something that we hope makes them happy. They are an expectation of the receiver and a duty of the giver.

Deep down, though, I believe that we as humans enjoy giving gifts – even more than we enjoy receiving them. At the very least, we were created to enjoy giving gifts. Why? Because we were created in God’s image and He is the Ultimate Giver. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

So at Christmastime, I think that we can embrace giving gifts as a reflection of our heavenly Father’s character and the greatest gift of all, Jesus. Use this time of year as an opportunity to teach our kids the reasons why we give, and allow them to experience giving themselves, not just receiving. Emma’s still a little young to understand the whole concept, but we plan to make giving to the less fortunate one of our family traditions (throughout the year, but especially at Christmas).

And finally for those of us like me, who still struggle a little with the idea that Christmas gifts feel expected and not spontaneous, it can be helpful to remember that giving gifts to those we love is not just a way of being forced to fight the holiday crowds. Instead, giving can be an expression of Christ’s love to them… and a blessing to ourselves in return.

One Response to “Christmas Thoughts: On Gifts”

  1. Lisa December 5, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    I enjoy your thoughts on gifts!

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