Today my 9 year old and I saw some city workers installing Christmas trees on light poles in our city. Known as “The Christmas City,” we have a considerable amount of tourism here around the holidays, so it isn’t really early for the city to be getting ready. To their credit, they haven’t tried to extend the season too much, although it would probably benefit them to do so.
Anyway, the sight of the Christmas tree got my daughter reflecting on the tradition of giving gifts. “You know where giving gifts started, Mom,” she said from the backseat as we drove. “The wise men gave gifts to Jesus.”
I pointed out that the gifts Jesus got weren’t toys, and that he didn’t get a whole bunch of them. “Some people have taken that tradition way overboard,” I commented. “Including our family, sometimes.”
She thought about that for a minute, then suggested that I could buy her an alarm clock for Christmas. We had just been talking about getting her one so she could start get herself up in the mornings instead of me waking her up. She’s growing up so fast. Even though her list so far is full of all kinds of toys, she is open to adjusting her expectations and doesn’t expect to get everything on her list. She likes the gifting aspect of Christmas, no doubt about it, but she knows it isn’t what Christmas is really all about.
“Soon it will be Christmas,” she said excitedly during our conversation. “The time when Jesus was born as a baby.”
October and early November is a good time to reevaluate your gift giving habits and attitudes. How much importance do you put on giving or getting the perfect gifts? Do you think your attitudes and habits are reflective of what you believe Christmas is all about? If not, what changes could you make, and how can you prepare your loved ones for these changes?
I’m not going to push my opinions as being the only right ones, because each one of us has to decide for ourselves how important gifts should be, and how we want to handle this aspect of our celebration. The important thing is to be intentional and not just fall prey to the constant advertising messages we will be exposed to this time of year.
I really haven’t thought about or focused on Christmas much this October. 2 days ago was exactly 2 months until Christmas, and a few years ago I would not have been comfortable having NO gifts bought or even really planned at this point other than some stocking stuffers. Sometimes I still have moments where I wonder if I am waiting too long to get started on preparations, but then I remember all the changes I have made and I know that this is the result–a more appropriate level of focus on this holiday instead of it taking over everything for the entire season.
In the comments below, share your thoughts on gift-giving and any efforts you have made to put Christmas into a more appropriate place in your life.