Butterfly Sparks Designs

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

...12 shopping weeks left...

so today's question for you:

how much STUFF do you get your kids (and others) for christmas? 

i REALLY want you to answer this for me, because i struggle with this question.  i need a solution.

my kids will be 4 1/2 and 6 years old this christmas, so they'll be very aware of who's getting what (in our house and in their friends homes.)  up until now we haven't done too much, and we haven't felt like we "needed" to. reasons?
1.  their grandparents get them a lot.
2.  we don't have the money.
3.  we don't want to promote consumerism and materialism.
4.  the focus is on jesus, not more stuff for us.

with all of that said, i think it's difficult to keep a reign on spending. it seems no one else does, so it's easy to get caught up in the mess of it. and to be completely honest, i really enjoy buying pajamas, purses, and other odds and ends for the girls they don't usually get during the year.

i have one friend that gives three presents to her daughter.  these gifts are symbolic of the gifts from the 3 wise men. that's it. three gifts.  i'm strongly considering adopting this idea, and think this is an excellent tradition to pass down.

here's an excerpt from a blog i wrote last december:

the national retail federation estimates that americans spent 457.4 BILLION DOLLARS at christmas in 2006. just 10 of those billion if put towards bringing clean water across the globe would solve the water crisis. 18 of those billion would bring food to every hungry child and adult on the planet. can you imagine if we began to look outside of ourselves during this season? what if we gave sacrificially to those truly in need, to show the love of jesus to those who are the least of these in our communities and around the world?
here's an excerpt from the website adventconspiracy.org:
"part of saying "yes" to Jesus means that we say "no" to over-spending. we say "no" to overconsumption. we say "no" to those things so we can create space to say "yes" to jesus and his reign in our lives. after the holidays we work for months to get out of debt, only to find that the presents we bought in the name of Christ furthered a consumerist mentality in us and our children and took our focus off of the greatness of Jesus. as Christ-followers, the advent conspiracy starts with us resisting a culture that tells us what to buy, wear and spend with no regard to bringing glory to jesus."

that sums up the struggle. would i like to spoil the girls and steve christmas morning? yes. for sure. but is it the right thing? certainly not.  
those of us who are believers are called to live differently. and sometimes it's difficult. here's an occasion it is a bit difficult to live differently.

i'm looking for a solution i can get behind and live with every year. a plan. 
if any of you have resolution or thoughts, please share it with us. let's discuss!


lindsay said...

i love the idea of the three gifts. we're facing the same thing as you: wanting to avoid materialism/consumerism, and also take the focus off 'what i get' and focus instead on WHY we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

michael and i haven't even been able to give each other gifts at Christmas - and while that kind of sucks, it's not all that bad. :)

we did decide, that when the kids are in school, we'd like to do a family 'service project' around Christmas - such a feed the hungry, save money to buy a gift for a neighbor in need, deliver food to the hungry, etc. we always set a budget before Christmas, get one really 'nice' thing for each and then a few, inexpensive gifts, stuffing their stockings with them as well - candy, fruit (that's a tradition from my health-nut mom, ha), nail polish, matchbox cars, books, play jewelry, etc. we try to emphasize Jesus and family and quality time together over lots of gifts (hard when extended family members do not!). i guess in 18 years, looking back, we'll see if we were successful.

Jen said...

We do 3 gifts and stockings. Making a b-day cake for Jesus is also a tradition. We also do a "gift" to benefit others. Last year we helped a child get cleft pallet surgery. Our girls are just getting to where they can get involved and understand giving is what it's about. I'm also looking at incorporating some of the symbolic Jewish customs leading up to Christmas to help them see what it's all about. Great post, looking forward to reading more comments.

steve and randel hambrick said...

here's another question:
are the 3 gifts from you or santa? how do you handle the santa thing?

Travis Greene said...

I like the three gifts idea. You could also consider making a gift, rather than buying one (so I don't sound so pious, I'll admit I've really never done that).

I don't recall ever getting a present from "Santa" except for some from my grandparents. Not sure what we'll do when the time comes. Which isn't soon.

ManUtd17 said...

We haven't really had to deal with the comparison issue yet. This may be the first year we can get K-Man to show some interest in even opening the gifts he gets.

We've talked about the 3 gift idea before too but haven't done it yet. We tend to forego come things during the year -- especially during the fall -- and say maybe we'll add it to the Christmas list.

And we include Santa in the process. I grew up with that tradition. Santa lays out unwrapped gifts when he comes because he just pulls them out of his bag.

And grandparents have no concept of moderation when it comes to Christmas gift-giving. They were all about delayed-gratification or no-gratification growing up, but that seems to evaporate when the grandkid arrives.

Writeaway said...

On the gift giving thing, I've completely failed at moderation. I lavish too much on my kids. I have spoiled them with surprises and great gifts. I love to buy for my children and Christmas has always been a really big deal.I buy things on clearance all year though - and store them in a closet so I can save that way!

I think it's important for my husband and me to give something to each other, just to once again demonstrate to the kids our love for each other. They need to understand that everything isn't all about them - and that's tough!

On the other hand, the thing I have learned is that they actually remember very few of the gifts. They remember the traditions and family time. And insist on them. Going to Christmas Eve service at RiverStone, driving around to see the lights after that service, the Jesus birthday cake on Christmas Day, going to granparents' houses at a certain time, entering Grandma's house by age when it's time to go see the gifts, etc.

I will say that one year Bob and I made a list for our stockings and it was great. We couldn't spend more than $1 on each item: something thoughtful, something fun, something random, something romantic, etc. It was so great to find out what we got and how it related to the list!

On the Santa thing: We told our kids he was "just for fun - sort of like a clown - but he wasn't real. Jesus is real." That may sound over the top, but they enjoyed Santa being the fun part and understood the meaning much better. We put out unwrapped gifts from us and some wrapped. They loved it and grew up understanding the priority of Jesus without ever being told Santa was "evil" or worldly. It worked for us and seemed to be a logical explanation for the girls.

ManUtd17 said...

The other tradition we have is that the nativity we put out has a baby Jesus (I can't type that without a momentary Talledega Nights flashback, sorry) that is removable from the manger. He gets hidden so every other nativity character is standing there waiting around an empty manger until Christmas morning when He arrives.

That has nothing to do with gift moderation, but I thought I'd throw it in free of charge.

Dana said...

Randel-this is Dana-Nikki's sister. Just poked my nose in on you today! Thought I'd share what we do.

Everyone gets three gifts on Christmas Eve; could be simply new socks, Texas Tech or UT attire (my boys). Santa brings one unopened gift on Christmas morning with stockings filled, also. The manger is always present under the tree. We read the Christmas story, too.

My kids have known since they were tiny that Santa is not real, but he's a lot of fun to pretend. I never wanted them to question the realness of Jesus. I didn't want them to put Jesus and Santa in the same category. Same thing with the tooth fairy and Easter bunny. Not real, fun to pretend.

We are always involved in Operation Christmas Child and/or a World Vision project at that time as well. We've also adopted families in our community for Christmas. They learn to give back through those things.

Enjoyed your blog. Hope I helped a little! =)

steve and randel hambrick said...

i LOVE all of these suggestions!!

thanks for the discussion.. keep ideas coming if you have any more thoughts!

Tammy H said...

Gosh Randel, praise God I don't live in US. I don't know what I would do. I am so thankful for the Christian Culture here in India which doesn't focus on the gifts at all. The true focus is celebrating the birth of Jesus. We wake up in the morning and sing Happy Birthday dear Jesus. Gifts are honestly a secondary thought.

Love Lindsays' idea of service projects.....being a family focus (not a side-note) Love the 3 gifts symbolic of the 3 gifts Jesus received. The only way that showing moderation will work is if you are fully committed to it, and you don't even slightly have the thought that you are 'short changing your kids' or that somehow they will grow older and make comparisons and feel somehow shafted. Give them what they need.......in thier hearts....... and the superficial stuff won't matter as much.

There is nothing more precious than watching your child open up a special gift, and seeing their face beam with happiness as they receive it. So....let gifts be a part of the celebration, but keep it simple. Keep it real. Keep in meaningful.

(One of the best Christmas' we had here at K-homes was when we had very little money and weren't able to give gifts----we had a great prayer time, devotions, singing, communion, etc...... It was incredible. The kids didn't seem to miss a beat. We (as the adults) were much more upset than they were that we weren't able to do-give much. )

Great Post Randel, loved your thoughts, the article, and the comments too

amy griffith said...

amy here:

hey randel! im catching up on a few blogs!

so, here was my first thought, before i got married i used to think, 'that love language thing is a FARCE! can't folks just love each other well, can't they just have hearts for each other?' then i got married, and i learned how real the love language thing is. there are 5 and 4 of them might fit into a category that doesn't require money, but something deeper inside of you. however, my #1 is gifts. so, for me, something tangible is big. now, that could sound shallow, but its how i know to give and receive love well. so, as a person who knows how to function out of this, this is HUGE for me! people say, 'spending time together is the best gift.' yeah, it probably is, but until there is a more tangible exchange of goods, i could be disappointed. so as much as i KNOW that holding back on giving too much at christmas (and always) is the right thing, hear a person who truly RECEIVES LOVE from a wrapped present say, this struggle could be bigger than you even know for you (if you give and receive love in gifts) or your girls (who may give and receive love in gifts.)
this said, i am a missionary and so we dont have any money and i am thankful for all the g-parents do for the kid and even rely on it. however, i think we will do the 3 gift thing (maybe you could figure out 3 REALLY special and meaningful gifts for each girl--something that would speak to them, to their hearts as individuals) and tell our kid santa isn't real.
my 2 cents.