>All Good Gifts

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Yeah, I’m thinking about Christmas in July.  Something I’ve been pondering lately is how my family can effectively alter our gift-giving patterns to give more glory to God. For example, our church participates in the Advent Conspiracy every Christmas, which advocates taking the commercialism out of the holiday and instead using the extra money to help build wells where they are needed.  This is really a fantastic idea…in theory.  But in practice it hasn’t worked out, and here’s why. 

Giving gifts is my primary love language.  I grew up in a household that really celebrated birthdays and Christmas by showering us with presents.  Lots of presents.  We did get a million things in between birthdays and holidays, but gifts were a major part of our celebrations.  So that is ingrained in me and I’ve come to expect it.  My husband, on the other hand, could care less about a lot of gifts.  This led to many conflicts in our marriage over the past twelve years, but he has finally figured it out. 

One of the biggest problems is that as I imagine Christmas with less presents for my kids from us, I imagine them resenting us for it.  Especially if they still get way more presents from their grandparents. How does that make us look?  And we love to make Santa Claus look good too, but not better than us.  It’s all about appearances, which seems ridiculous.  My kids are too young at this point to understand that instead of a billion toys, half of which they will never use, we are providing safe drinking water for people who desperately need it.  On the other hand by not scaling back on gifts now, we are setting them up for certain expectations. 

I have zero answers for this, only that I’m feeling more and more compelled to buy less and give more.  Despite my shopaholism.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. >it's interesting that you write about the love language. in my family, objects (and money) are also the love language, though my specific love language is spending time together. i am also a bit of a minimalist, so nearly all physical gifts actually make me uncomfortable, and have since i was very little! our holidays (between ryan, hawk, and i) always focus on traditions and experiences together, rather than on objects–in fact it's rare that we give gifts at all! so for me, this anti-commercialism thing isn't tough, but i think if one is object oriented in various ways–it can be very challenging!

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  2. >We try to limit gifts at Christmas. The adults in my family don't exchange presents anymore, we donate money to a selected charity. The kids still get overwhelmed by gifts. It feels so over-indulgent. We try to make sure that they know how fortunate they are.

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  3. >It is quite a dilemma. Here is my 2 cents (1.98 US with the current exchange rate). Gifts can convey love but does a big gift profess bigger love? A smaller gift can convey love for your sons while using the money saved to buy the well (a wonderful cause for your church by the way). This also teaches your children to love others besides family members.I also think North American society is brainwashed to spend spend spend and that is the only way to convey our feelings for one another.

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  4. >Elz and Kirk, totally agree with both of you. Small gifts mean just as much to me as big gifts. We tend not to buy really big gifts at Christmas, but a LOT of smaller ones. I think I just need to talk to our families about a new plan, limiting the gifts but making a conscientious, visible act of giving to the less fortunate…like with the wells. Last year our church collected $60,000 for Living Water to dig wells! I think the goal had been 25K. Oh and jenifer, with the love language of gifts its not at all about materialism, so money means nothing. It's the act of giving, the representation of it in an object…like my husband could buy me a latte and it would mean the world to me.

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  5. >When I was growing up, our parents made sure we had plenty of presents. What they did was to buy all the necessities, wrap them up individually, and place them under the tree (or wherever). So, we might get a book and a toy or two, and a whole lot of underwear/socks.I took a different tack with my own kid. Instead of lots of small presents, we might get one larger (but not always real expensive) one, something that was "wanted" and not "needed". Also, we don't always wait until "the day" to give it, in this sense we follow the Dutch tradition of doing the gift giving and opening on a day other than Christmas. That way, we can focus on other things on Christmas (or other gift-giving) days: family, friends, community.~EdT.

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  6. >I would love to hear more about the Advent Conspiracy. Other than collecting $$, were there other activities your church did to downplay the commercialism of Christmas? I just stumbled upon your blog today…I think you had a comment on Ohamanda's blog and that's how I found you.

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