Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2011

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.


abby 10:35 PM  

We still "spend" the same amount on our kids but instead of the full amount being gifts we spend about 3/4 of the amount on gifts and 1/4 of it is cash but the cash needs to be spent on someone else - however they choose. One year we sent it back to Ethiopia, one year my daughter (4) wanted to use her money to buy doughnuts and juice for people at the homeless shelter, one year a gift was bought for a friend who's parents were out of work. It's been a great way for them to think about how they can brighten someone's day.

Erika 9:58 AM  

I spend a little less than you do, but Kai's birthday is one month after Christmas, so getting presents twice in one month is more than enough.

We do for others during the holiday season and I'm always looking for new opportunities. The older Kai gets, the more of those there are.

One blog writer who I really like signs her entire family up for a day ringing the Salvation Army bell. She has 4 kiddos too, so all 6 of them spend a day doing that and it appears to be a wonderful family tradition. This year, they brought a few musical instruments to entertain themselves as well as the people walking by.

Heather 7:47 PM  

I love the Christmas for "all" idea! Actually, most of the gifts that I gave the girls could/will be played with by both girls, but I never thought to give them as "family" gifts. Good idea!

Alysa 9:17 PM  

I LOVE the donation gift. I hope to do something like that when we have kids. World Vision has a giving catalog that they might be interested in. It lets you give all sorts of things.

My husband has golfed in an Operation Christmas Child benefit tournament every year for about 8 years now. Do you know if any of your kids ever got an OCC gift before being adopted? I ask because this year when our pastor mentioned OCC this year at church I started bawling; I started wondering if our kids (who we don't know yet) might get a gift from OCC this year. I hope they did.

A. Gillispie 9:28 PM  

Alysa, YES! I know of two children who have been adopted from Ghana and once received a shoebox from OCC!!!

Emily B. 10:09 AM  

we decided to do 3 gifts (to represent the 3 wise men) for our little guy. I spent a grand total of.... $36 on him and he was SUPER happy.

I agree that giving gifts is a LOT of fun for me so I'm sure we'll never get rid of it completely.

But rather we try to give a toy for every toy our son "gets". So three from mom and dad, and a few others from family members; we chose 9 toys to donate to a local family with a new toddler-aged foster-son.

It helps keep the clutter to a minimum, teaches about giving, and also lets mom have the joy of watching her babe's big 'ole smile on Christmas morning. Amen! :)