Some families are skipping Christmas gift-giving this year.
Tired of “rampant consumerism,” “materialistic gain,” and “unnecessary stress” they decide it would be best to veto presents rather than take part in this dark part of our culture.
It sounds like they’re on the right track, right? No one likes those nasty buzz phrases I put in quotation marks. Many of us could talk heatedly about the greedy turn our culture is taking, about how kids these days are too entitled, about how all of the STUFF has made us lose track of the true meaning of the holiday.
Every year brings new examples of families who aren’t doing gifts. It’s not a new trend. Growing up in our homeschool community, there was always a family or two who made the brave, commendable decision to give their kids only “practical” presents, or to volunteer at the soup kitchen every weekend in December as a gift-giving replacement.
When I was little, these stories of an alternate Christmas made me nervous. Because I really liked getting presents! Lately, I’ve been able to put my finger on it–gifts are one of my love languages.
And I can’t help but wonder: if we demonize gift-giving in favor of one of the other love languages, what happens to those of us who feel loved–or show love–with presents?
Here’s the thing: there is absolutely nothing inherently wrong, consumerist, materialist, or greedy about giving and receiving presents at Christmas time! Sometimes when we see something bad in ourselves, or in the culture, we react too strongly. We’d rather give up altogether than try to redeem the good parts.
But there’s a lot of good to redeem about present giving and receiving!
Think about why we started the gift-giving tradition in the first place. The magi brought gifts to Jesus–amazing, expensive gifts! But even more than that, God gave the lavish gift of His son coming to earth to be with us.
I treasure the symbolism of gift-giving at Christmastime, and I want my future children to enjoy a reflection of their generous heavenly Father by the gifts that we give them.
So here’s my thought for you this month: Stop associating presents with materialism.
If you want to show love to your family by lavishing them with good things, do it.
If you receive a beautiful present from someone, accept it graciously, guilt-free.
If you see someone spending more than you think is appropriate on a loved one, don’t judge them.
A present-filled Christmas can still be a simple Christmas!
Just as house size doesn’t determine whether or not you live a simple life, presents–or lack of presents–doesn’t determine the stress levels of your holiday season.
You can keep things simple, with the presents, by budgeting a certain dollar amount that you’ll spend for each person on your list (this is what my parents did with us!). You could also draw names with extended family and get one gift rather than 25 (this is what I’m doing with my siblings and siblings-in-law this Christmas!). You can keep the present wrapping simple by skipping the elaborate bows and labels and just using brown kraft paper and red ribbon!
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you think gift-giving has a place in Christmas? Can we have a simple and non-materialistic holiday and still enjoy presents?
Please understand that I’m not saying that families who are forgoing presents this year are evil or are killjoys. My goal is to remind us that gift giving CAN be a beautiful and meaningful part of celebrating Christmas.