Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What Did You GIVE for Christmas?

Last week, on the drive home from church, I asked my son Charlie Brown,

"So, what are you going to give Granny and Poppy for Christmas?"
He said, "Not much, I guess. I don't have any money. I'm broke."

Yes, he does get a meager allowance ($1 per year of his age - which is 9 - per month. Minus 10% for tithing and minus 10% for savings. So, $7.20 per month.) It doesn't leave much with which to buy Christmas presents, especially after buying junk for himself.

I asked him, "Why don't you make them something?"
"Like a card?" He gave me a twisted-up face and said, "They'll think I'm cheap. Only a card! No way!"

I put on a very serious expression and told him, firmly, "No they would NOT. They love you to pieces and ANYTHING you made for them would be valuable. They would probably even like it more."

Still, he wasn't deterred. His grandparents weren't getting any homemade craft project, no matter how sincere the sentiment behind it.

I told him, "You know, giving comes in so many different forms. You don't have to give them a tangible gift. That means, it doesn't have to be a gift they can touch. You can give people gifts that come from your heart, not your pocket. Give your sister Sally the gift of patience - when she's getting on your nerves just take a deep breath and don't get frustrated. Instead, help her out. Give your brother Linus the gift of your time. He's always begging you to play with him - why don't you offer to play a game of his choosing. And PLAY NICE! Give your Granny the gift of love - when you go to the movies today, ask if you can sit next to her. Hold the door open for her. Tell her how much fun you had when the movie is over."

Charlie Brown looked out the window thoughtfully, and then said, "It won't work, Mom."

I persisted, "Yes it will! You have to remember that this is the season of giving. But we always ask, after Christmas is over, 'What did you GET for Christmas?' I want our family to focus on, 'What did we give for Christmas?' Give things that have real meaning. Give things that aren't the easy choice. Give things that mean more to the receiver than to the giver."

He said, "Okay, Mom. I'll try."

I hope *I* gave him something that day. I hope I gave him some perspective about what the season is about. It's not about giving a gift in a certain price point. It's not about giving the person exactly what they wrote on their Christmas list. It's not about giving so we can make ourselves feel better or feel loved or feel forgiven for the wrongs of the last 12 months.

Christmas isn't really about our giving at all. But since we do give to one another, it couldn't hurt us to remember to give from our hearts, not our pocketbooks.

This post was inspired by an article I read in Focus on the Family Bulletin, an insert we get in our regular church bulletin once a month. You can see the bulletin article (entitled, A Model for Compassion, here. - this is not our church website, this is the only place online I could find a copy of this particular article.)

Photo Credit

Texan Mama


Crystal said...

Hey girl- how's my Texas mama??!! I loved- I mean LOVED- this post. I am trying to teach my kiddos the same thing..but it's hard when they themselves really do like to "get" gifts at Christmas. however, it wasn't that long ago that I couldn't put anything under that tree...but time w/my kiddos and lots of love. I'm going to run w/your idea about giving something unique to each sibling (maybe some kind of coupon-y thing or something)....instead of going to the store and buying something that will hang out in the toy box w/the rest of the casualties. We did Angel tree gifts this year instead of buying for all the nephews (no nieces)...and I noticed my 11 yo very, very touched. Maybe, just maybe, I'm doing something right.

Sorry this got soooooo looooong...but you touched my heart with this one (even though I always love your posts!). GOd bless you fellow believer. Have a very Merry Christmas.

Jennifer said...

I really love this, and it is so true. I hate it when someone asks me what I want from Christmas. I don't want anything. At least not anything that can be bought. I think we forget that the season isn't about gifts, but about THE gift.

Gigi said...

What a great post! And what a great mom. Yes, I think Charlie Brown "got" something out of it.

Frogs in my formula said...

You said it. I resent the fact that because we don't overindulge in the commercialism of the holiday we are considered cheap. Or that because we don't want our son to be spoiled with too many presents we are seen as scrooges. We need to stop the madness and celebrate the true spirit of the holiday.

Anonymous said...

Random thought--I wonder if it's harder for boys to do the homemade/crafty stuff than girls? If there is this stigma of WUSS all over it? And they think, "It's money or nothing."

I'm just thinking that a girl is all about whipping out her pot holder thing and stringing together some hideous thing for grandma, but a boy? Uhh...not so much.

I like the ideas you gave him. I would have come up with work stuff, like shoveling snow. :) Yours are more outside the box.

Jenn said...

Ooooh I love this! Great way to refocus the kiddos, too - I'll try and remember to redirect the questions to how the kids gave. :)

Glad to find your blog! I'm a fellow Texan mommy blogger. Yay!

Annie said...

Well, you certainly "gave" me something!

Amy said...

Excellent post for me to read today. Thanks so much!