Tuesday, December 21, 2010

four: Christmas

it always feels like too much. especially at Christmastime. empty boxes and ripped wrapping paper cover the carpet. new toys strewn all over the place, needing batteries and to charge and to be assembled. it's too much. too much stuff. the children are on overload. it's always more than they need. it's more than they can possibly play with and thoroughly enjoy. and it's definitely more than they can be truly thankful for.

it's then and there that Jesus gets lost. the heart of Christmas gets shoved to the back, behind the shiny new things. the true meaning of Christmas, as bright as it is, gets overshadowed by the false glow of the latest whoosits and whatnots.

when we show our children that things equal love by burying them in gifts, why would they bother to seek and celebrate the love of Christ? if we keep giving them more and more, bigger and more lavish, we are responsible for our children's greedy attitudes and expectations of more and more. are we teaching our children that more is better? 

"LOOK AT ALL MY PRESENTS! Yippee I'm so excited! I love Christmas!!!!! Oh yeah, and happy birthday Jesus."

i can't handle it. i don't want to cultivate that attitude. we needed a solution. a purpose for our gift giving. the last thing we need around here is more stuff. what we could really use is more Jesus.

and that is why we give our children 4 Christmas gifts each. 1) something they want, 2) something they need, 3) something to wear, and 4) something to read. four gifts. 


it's a fairly new tradition here, and it has already changed us. each gift is a blessing to the child. each gift is something they are truly thankful to receive. each gift is simple. thoughtful. purposeful.

not only does this four gift tradition put an end to the stuff overload and the greed attitude... it gives us more room to focus on the birth of our Savior. it clears the clutter so we can celebrate His love. it hushes the noise so we can hear His voice. it empties us of our selves so we can be filled with Him. it replaces the spirit of greed with the spirit of gratitude.

this is the kind of Christmas we want: simplified, meaningful, and  memorable. no more excess. no more indulgence. no more more.

Christmas is not about the latest and greatest from Toys 'R Us. it's not about the biggest thing under the tree. it's not about how many presents they get, or how much money was spent. we teach by example that Christmas is not about wishlists, retail catalogs, Santa, magic, or things. worldly possessions fade. Jesus is forever. by taking the focus off of gifts, we create an environment where the true meaning of Christmas is #1. everything else is just bonus. 

with this new tradition in our home, i am amazed at how little can come to mean so much. Jesus is there, at the center of our Christmas, with four purposeful gifts under our tree.


the gift tags pictured above are from Dandee Designs.