It’s the most wonderful time of the year indeed! But do you agree that it is the most expensive and stressful time as well?
My love for Christmas rooted from the family I was born into. For us, this is the most joyful season of all, we start decorating in September, finish wrapping gifts by October, Christmas songs on blast in November…the gifts! Oh the gifts! I am my mother’s certified elf! Even when I became older and had my own money, I lavish on buying gifts for everyone. That’s when I had a problem. I was always broke after Christmas.
It was a different scenario for my husband, Mike, who doesn’t know that he needs to buy people gifts! We are complete opposites and I this made us perfect for each other— I taught him the importance of gift giving while he taught me that gifts need not be branded/expensive. (If you have been following me for a while, then you know my struggle about being materialistic and how I am learning to choose quality over quantity.)
So I guess what you’ve been dying to ask is…
SHOULD I REALLY GIVE GIFTS THIS CHRISTMAS?
CHRISTmas is not GIFTmas.
The word Christmas is derived from Hebrew and Latin words which translates to “celebration of Christ,” celebrating the day Jesus was born. Meanwhile, the gift giving became a tradition many people practice because the Magi (wise men) presented baby Jesus some gifts. Christians believe a more meaningful and sacrificial context on why we give gifts during this season— this is the day God the Father gave His son to us. We are thankful for the season and some express this kind of gratitude through giving.
It’s not a yes or no question, it is more of case-to-case basis. Giving gifts is an expression but not mandatory. You will not go to heaven if you give (gifts) and you will definitely not go to hell if you don’t. It only becomes wrong if your motives are not good. Why do you want to give gifts? Is it because you are expecting something in return? On the other hand, why don’t you like to share your blessings? Is it because of selfish reasons?
WHAT KIND OF GIFTS SHOULD I GIVE?
They say it’s the thought that counts, but what kind of thoughts do you think of other people?
Several Christmases ago, an ancient history, one that I never held grudge on but just to give you a clear example, someone gave Ryry a defective toy. We totally understand if that person doesn’t have money or that he is trying to save because he has plenty of kids to give gifts to. We are not rich nor entitled either so we are not the kind of family who would really expect to receive expensive gifts and I make sure I educate my kids well about materialism. I’m affirmative my daughter have forgiven this person (and probably forgot about it too) but you know how kids get excited then frustrated then disappointed about things that they really, really like? Exactly how she felt when we found out the toy isn’t working.
Now the Magi did not give Jesus Rolex or a Porsche. The three wise men gave him gifts that has significance to who he is. The Magi dreamt about him, they thought about him, they love him that they are even willing to sacrifice their own life for Him. It was not about how expensive their gifts was, it was about what Jesus meant for them.
Christmas 2013, Mike, Ryry and I decided to make personalized handmade cards as gifts to people we love and care for. We were saving our money because I was about to give birth to our son the following year. People understood it but most importantly we made it from our hearts.
Again, it’s your intention that matters. Your gifts are extension of yourself. It will reflect what kind of a giver you are. Don’t give so people may think you are able, but give out of love. There’s nothing wrong about gifting branded/high end stuff. Please, do if you think you will make that person happy but don’t go bankrupt afterwards. I love this verse I was reminded on recently,
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance,
but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.
God tells us to give, to share, to be kind. Sure. But above all, He commands us to be wise in stewarding our finances. Remember, our money is also a gift from Him.
Another good factor in determining what gifts to give this season is to not buy something that the person will think of RE-GIFTING or EXCHANGING. It’s nice that people become creative, but be mindful of your purchases. When you hold an item today at the store, ask yourself this question first: will this be useful for ______?
My husband is probably the hardest person to give a gift to! There are numerous times that I would buy him things that I’m sure he’d like but since he’s very indecisive, we’d always end up exchanging it to something else. So my best bet would be giving him a gift card. I don’t even have to wrap it!
WHAT DO I TEACH MY KIDS?
Contrary to popular belief that Christmas is for children, IT IS FOR EVERYONE! God did not send His son only for the kids, He sent him for me and you too!
Although this is the season for gift giving, it also brings a lot of stress to parents whose kids developed that sense of entitlement where THEIR WANTS become THEIR NEEDS and if not met, they will make your Christmas Day miserable. Teach them about the real meaning this season and elaborate how and where Jesus was born. Describe to them that when he was born he was wrapped in cloths, not in a swaddle, and was place in a manger surrounded by animals not in a bassinet with nurses and doctors. Tell them how privileged they are and that they should use this advantage for goodness.
Skip your big old red man ritual and teach them that all the good stuff comes from God alone. Don’t be the Grinch but don’t also raise the bar for them. Let them know that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Giving to the poor, the needy, the helpless, and not just during Christmas but more importantly, give every day of your life.
Spoil your kids with L-O-V-E. If you love them, you will discipline them, you will teach them, but before you’ll able to do that is if you yourself understood the real Reason for this season.
Giving gifts may have become mainstream today, like everyone is giving them that you decided not to just to be different but as I have said, gifts has meanings. In the old testament, the Israelites offer to God as a sign of worship. Abraham’s servant gave costly gifts to Rebekah’s family to honor Isaac’s wife to be (Genesis 24:53). Jacob prepared gifts for Esau to show that he’s sincere in rebuilding his relationship with his brother (Genesis 32:13-15). The Queen of Sheba brought King Solomon gifts because she was pleased with him (1 Kings 10:2). Mary poured an expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet because she knows the Son of God is worth more than anything in this world (John 12:3).
Meaningful gifts no matter how big or small, expensive or not, will always be appreciated. You don’t really have to stress yourself thinking what to give or if the person will like it. Do it with love, expect nothing in return and see how light your burden will be.
My family doesn’t have the budget for expensive gifts but I make sure to save up for nice wrappers and note cards. Replace those tiny labels and opt for bigger ones so you can actually write a personal note to the recipient. It’s always a go to say nice things to people, they’ll never forget it.
SOME PRACTICAL WAYS AND GIFT IDEAS TO CONSIDER…
- Local Finds – amazing how more and more Filipino entrepreneurs are becoming innovative and with the rich natural resources our country has, there’s so much organic products for skin care and accessories that will not break the bank. My recent discovery is Karton.ph but if you like to do it old school, check out Bazaars like #4GREENPH happening this weekend.
- Handmade Crafts – if you really want your gifts to have personal feels, make your own! You can bake a simple cookie or make aroma candles. If you don’t have the time, you can always trust online shops like Heartsy2Artsy to help you put more meaning to your gifts.
- Give Family Gifts Instead – this is a wise choice! As much as we want to be picky with our gifts, it is also not ideal to stress to much on each gifts. Remember the meaning of this season? Perfect family gifts are something that they can consume together like baked goods or gourmet products.
- Universal Gifts – as I’ve said giving gifts is not mandatory but it always help to prepare a little something for your workmates, neighbors or carpool moms. Through my in laws, we discovered this person who makes the best polvoron which you can buy in bulk (at a very reasonable price) then just divide and repack it to maximize the product. Contact details may be given upon request.
- Books – can I get a hands up from parents who feels like toys are very expensive? I know a lot of people who prefers to give gifts to kids but torn on what to give them as children stuff (whether toys or clothing) tend to be really costly. Here’s a secret—GET THEM BOOKS! Do you know you can buy good books for as low as P50? Just make sure you spend time in National Bookstore or if you are looking for Christian life books you can find a lot in PCBS and OMF LIT. PS, you can even score good books for adults too if you are very patient. PPS, go to PCBS in CCF Center during the weekdays and you’ll have the place to yourself.
And before I let you go shop, I just want to remind you again about the real reason of this season— JESUS. Don’t forget that the greatest gift that you can give is life itself: be there for people, pray for one another and LOVE them.
We were always told to live within our means, but I think to live BELOW your means is a better approach as one pastor have suggested too. Think first if buying the stuff you want for yourself and/or for other people will glorify you or God? Be careful on how you spend today!
I wish you all a meaningful and blessed Christmas! Much love from me and my family. ❤