11.30.2009

Christmas without presents? I like it!



Now that we’ve enjoyed our Turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pie I am flinging myself straight into the Christmas season! I love almost everything about Christmas … except one thing. There is always one area that can get me down and steal my joy.


Presents. Blagh – just thinking about it gets me all irritated. Don’t get me wrong – I love to give presents… in fact there are times when I struggle to wait until Christmas morning (sometimes I don’t make it!) haha BUT – I hate the obligatory gift giving and receiving. I hate knowing that I have to go out and search for something that someone doesn’t really need and will probably have forgotten about by February just so that I can make sure no one’s feelings get hurt. I hate having to rack my brain to come up with a list of things we want for Christmas so that our parents can also go out and buy us things that we don’t really need, and won’t remember we have by February. It’s all so dumb and pointless to me.

Here’s the bottom line truth – as far as material things go we DON’T NEED anything! We actually don’t even want anything! You see, we’re not rich, but we’re not poor either. If we have a need – we go get it! Now, we don’t go out and fulfill all our wants because that would be irresponsible and extremely selfish. A lot of our “wants” are silly and frivolous and if we just wait a month we come to realize we don’t really want it anymore. Then we’re thankful we didn’t waste the money. This makes Christmas really hard for us because honestly do not want anything and don’t need anything.

Can I be even more honest for a moment? I really don’t know anyone who DOES need anything! Seriously! All our family and friends have plenty. We’re middle class Americans – what on earth could we possibly need? It’s so hard to shop for our families for this reason! We always feel like it’s such a waste of our money (and it is) and know that our money could be put to much better use!

So this morning I read Amy’s post about the Hollis family and one thing that leaped out at me was their Christmas tradition… they don’t buy each other presents!! How wonderful!! They just don’t do presents! Instead, they raise money for orphans … a perfect use of their time and money over the Christmas season. Somehow I also think it’s a little more in line with what Jesus would want Christmas to be about too!

So here’s my dilemma … how do we get there? John and I can easily agree not to get each other anything and instead put the money we would spend on presents for each other toward the adoption of our son, a Christmas Tree Angel Child, and/or the Christmas Shoe Box ministry. But what about everyone else? How do we get that to work with our families? How do we not buy presents for anyone and have them understand and not be hurt? How do we get them to not buy us anything and just donate to our adoption or to any other ministry or needy family with the money they would have used for gifts? How do we do that when some of our family doesn’t have our faith, so they wouldn’t get it at all?

16 comments:

Lois Lane II said...

Good thought! I don't think my family would ever go the no-presents route, but, in order for me to concentrate on the Christmas season, I try to get all of my Christmas shopping done BEFORE Dec. 1. I am pretty much through now -- two gifts left, and they're small ones, which means I won't be stressing about them.

3 Blessings said...

We have told everyone that we are not buying Christmas presents this year with the exception of the little kids...because they wouldn't understand. We shared with everyone that our eyes have been opened to so much true need that we asked that they do not get us gifts either.

Our kids have always picked an angel off the SA tree and shopped for them, wrapped and returned the gifts. This year we have already added the shoe boxes and Taylor and Cade will be ringing the SA bells with us. I am with you. I think that is exactly what Jesus would want rather than obligation gifts that no one needs.

Blessings,
Amy

Leigh said...

totally understand. Not only do we not need anything we really don't have a ton of extra cash to buy everyone else junk they don't need when we are in the middle of fundraising to get our children home. That's why we are trying to do the next best thing (besides not buying presents) and that's the shop with a purpose, all of the presents we buy are either supporting orphan care or helping someone else to get their child(ren) home.

Kristin said...

Lauren,

I feel like I could've written this same exact post word for word!! I have already been in a bad mood this past weekend, as I spent hours trying to figure out what to buy people who can buy whatever they want, whenever they want, and don't need a thing! I really don't want or need anything either. I would rather everyone just keep their money and buy their own presents if there's something they want. It would be a much better use of the money. It's just so ridiculous. I don't know how to get to that point either. I love Christmas for the kids and I love giving, but I don't like buying stuff just to buy it, like you said. Every year I say I'm just not going to do it anymore, but I don't think I can convince my family to donate the money either. Because to them, Christmas is nothing without the presents....they just don't get it.

Let me know if you find a solution! :)

Kristin

He & Me + 3 said...

I hear you. as much as I enjoy giving gifts it has gotten out of control. We are doing the 12 days of giving again to try and bring the focus back to giving...not just gifts but time, money and talent where it is needed. I would love for there to be no pressure when it comes to giving gifts.
I don't have an answer for you but to talk with them and explain your heart for this year.

Braley Mama said...

We are also trying to make the transition. last year we donated animals to GFA in our family members name,but also gave them a book. this year we are donating for each other but I am making most gifts,of things I am sure people don't need.:) I love this post because it is also a dilemma I have. I am faithful He will guide us through this. And we blesssed that this is a trial for us:) Merry Christmas!

Alicia said...

Lauren, I hear ya!!!

The good thing for us is that all our family (except my sis in law) live in another state. That takes away alot of the stress! I do agree that gift giving becomes more obligatory in some situations.

I think that sharing with your family about your adoption fund vs. material gifts is a wonderful idea!!!

Bobbi said...

Being a terribly "controlling" type person...I've been learning that when I'm deeply convicted about something...it's okay to share my heart...but NOT to dictate to others how they should respond. My convictions aren't necessarily going to be theirs. Make the plan for you...leave it out there in the breeze...maybe suggest the donating thing to everyone...but try not to make them feel bad for still wanting to buy presents you don't need...but they thought you'd like.

Joye @ The Joyeful Journey said...

What a great post! And one I completely agree with!! We're in a difficult situation b/c my husband's family is just so HUGE (which is wonderful, really!) but makes gift giving pretty hard for us financially. I'm going to try to make most of the gifts this year. It's been on my heart pretty heavily to ask people not to give me a gift, but to donate the money they would spend instead. I also want my kids to take part in the giving tree and since funds are short this year, we may go through our own toy boxes and give some away. I think the most important thing about Christmas is giving--doing it with a cheerful heart--and meeting the needs of those around us.

Katie said...

I feel ya, non believers just don't get it. It gets really frustrating. I like to do it for the kids not 55 yr old adults (:

T. J. Knowlton said...

I sit there every Christmas and watch my family unwrap and unwrap and unwrap. Then I watch them all leave their gifts in the living room for a week until we take them to their proper homes.

We are wondering a similar thing. My nephew says that he likes to give to those less fortunate, so I was thinking of putting my money where his mouth is. I was thinking of donating in his name, perhaps the sponsorship of a child.

So, perhaps donating to charities that interest them?

You are giving me courage!

Franchesca Cox said...

I wish it was easier to get more people on board with giving rather than obligatory gift-giving that is desperately encouraged by retailers. The first time I heard about giving on Christmas instead of exchanging gifts was from a preacher talking about how his wife wanted to do something similar to what you mentioned. I was so ashamed because the thought had never crossed my mind. I think this is a beautiful idea, and I really hope it works out so that you can get off this conveyor belt that we have all been pushed onto. Honestly, I'd like to know if you come up with any ideas. This would be a nice change.

xo

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I hear you...

No good answers for you. I do have a great idea for parents, etc. We've started doing photo books with Shutterfly with pictures from the previous year; makes for a nice memory book and doesn't collect a lot of dust over the years. Rather, it is enjoyed year after year.

Just a thought...

peace~elaine

Rachel @ Future Pastor's Wife said...

We don't give presents to anyone. Mostly our reason is because we don't have any discretionary money, but I would be fine with not giving presents even if we HAD discretionary money to spend. We don't need anything, our family doesn't need anything. Why all the waste?

Amber said...

In the past, we've given little cards that explain that we gave money in the person's honor to a certain organization. For instance, through samaritan's purse one year, we bought formula for babies, a goat for a needy family, clean water, etc. so the card would say "A year's worth of formula was purchased in your honor for a child in Africa who can now face tomorrow without hunger." Everytime we have done this, it was well received by everyone. This year, I also asked several family members to not buy gifts for us but rather to just give the money to our adoption fund. My grandmother flat refused, claiming we needed something under the tree to open, so we got her to compromise and let us buy something on sale (which I can return for cash anyway with a receipt) and put the remainder of her gift towards our adoption fund.

Katie LaPierre said...

I enjoyed reading everyones comments. We too give to GFA (gospelforasia.com) and "shop" their christmas catalog. We don't give gifts to anyone except my mother. She seems to be the only that has a tough time with us not giving gifts. She is the only non-christian in the family and I feel that it is better witness to her to just buy her a little something (she is a big gift person). We just decided that gifts, trees, santa etc. were too much of a distraction from Christ and we want our Christmas to all about Christ. In Matt. 25:40 Jesus said that when we give to those in need we give to Him. SInce it is His birth we are supposedly celebrating He is the one we should be giving too. Thanks for the post!