We really want to change some things next Christmas. I don't think that we spend a lot of money on our kids' Christmas according to most standards (or am I wrong?) We try to keep it around $100 a child. I love to shop. I even "do" Black Friday! I enjoy buying gifts for my children. We don't make it a habit to get many extras during the year, so I feel it's sort of justified to be a bit more extravagant at Christmas. Still, I find that each year I feel more and more conflicted.
My children NEED nothing at Christmas. They want for nothing. We are a blessed middle class family with all of our needs met.
We are a family that knows the world is a small place. We hurt for those who do have needs that aren't being met. And yet, we've done very little during past Christmases to help a single person in need. Yeah, yeah, can drives. But we want to take it further. And we want to take it further in a way that will teach our kids.
I know there are people reading this blog that don't do ANY gifts for their kids and instead focus on giving to others at Christmas. I really admire you. That won't ever be us, if I'm being honest. I get too much joy out of watching my children receive some "just because" luxuries on Christmas morning. Christ was a gift, given not because we deserved anything. He was a gift given out of grace. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with giving children gifts at Christmas--even "rich" American kids who don't need anything.
We're going to make two changes next year. Oddly enough, I don't anticipate we will be spending any less at Christmastime.
1. We plan to make the gifts under our tree more family-oriented. The gifts I enjoy giving the most are the ones labeled to "all." Really, the kids end up playing with everything together anyway! I want the focus to be less "me" and more "we" or "others." I'm sure there will be at least one gift for each child individually, but most of them are going to be things we can enjoy as a family. Games. "Gillispie Fun Night" coupons. Outside toys. Things like that.
2. I want us to be focused much more on others. We don't have a ton of money to give, so I'm more interested in other things we can do to demonstrate to our children all of the easy ways they can bless someone less fortunate than they are. We'll start by taking part in Operation Christmas Child. We'll probably continue the tradition we started this year of simply having extra bags of cookies to hand out the window to the homeless in our area (there are quite a few). We also plan to have care packages for the homeless that we can hand out when we see someone who needs it (deodorant, warm mittens, cold medicine, bus tickets, etc.). This year we also did several small things to bless our neighbors (encouraging notes with small gifts, cookies, etc.). That is definitely a keeper tradition. We plan to provide Christmas gifts for at least one child in foster care. We'll be brainstorming more simple ways we can minister to those around us. Another thing I know we will do is give a "donation gift" to our kids, under the tree. It will be money. And they get to research and decide where they would like to send it. There are so many worthy causes and I'd like my kids to start thinking about where their passion might be.
That's it. Nothing earth-shattering. Certainly nothing unique. I think these few changes will be beneficial for our family.