…but, fear not! I’m not one of those Christmas-crazy people who decorate before Halloween (not that I’m criticizing you, if you are one of those people).
I admit, I do listen to Christmas music extremely early in the season. (As in, I have already plugged in my earbuds and indulged in my Christmas playlist on Spotify – secretly, with the app minimized, to prevent my family from mocking me.)
But I shop for and wrap gifts early for more practical purposes. Spreading my gift shopping out over several months prevents me from blowing our budget, and it allows me to take time to shop for ideal gifts at affordable prices. I wrap each gift as soon as I can, so that I don’t have a massive pile to wrap right before Christmas, when I’m typically overwhelmed by other seasonal activities.
In that light, I asked my kiddos to start thinking about what they might like for Christmas this year. Surprisingly, my request was met with thoughtful silence. Even my youngest, who turned ten this summer, couldn’t come up with any ideas right away.
Their lack of immediate wants, or even needs, started a great conversation about what Christmas morning would be like without an abundance of gifts.
I admit, I was uncomfortable at first with the idea of seeing our tree on Christmas morning with only a few gifts under it. But not for long. After all, my kids can’t tell you most of what they got for Christmas two weeks after the big day – with the exception of a few much-anticipated, much-beloved gifts.
But we all remember the Christmas treats we bake and decorate for weeks beforehand, sharing them with Sunday school teachers, our mail carrier, and others. We anticipate the huge Christmas breakfast we make every year, with everyone’s favorite breakfast foods accounted for and all of us taking part in the preparations. We look forward to playing endless rounds of board games, piecing together Christmas-themed puzzles, watching beloved Christmas movies, performing in the Christmas candlelight service at church, driving around to see neighborhood Christmas lights, and attending Vespers at the performing arts university in a nearby town.
Each year, we remember the joy of being together, the pleasure of giving, the beauty of the season, the miracle of the Nativity.
Freely ye have received, freely give. – Matthew 10:8b
In part, it was the pleasure and privilege of giving that drew the wise men across many miles, for many months, to the Child who would be our Savior.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. – Matthew 1:21
Imagine being one of the wise men, following a star that led them to a rather ordinary home, where lived a dark-eyed little boy. Imagine presenting the gifts that they did, gifts that turned out to be valuable, practical, and ultimately suitable to the Receiver.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. – Matthew 2:11
Contemplating that, I can’t imagine giving up gift-giving completely. But instead of giving frivolous bits and pieces, I’d like to give my family one or two gifts each, gifts that they will treasure for the thought and sacrifice behind them.
Now, I’ll have to consider what those gifts could be…
What was your most memorable Christmas gift? What are some of your most cherished holiday traditions? I’d love to hear from you!