In these tough economic times, people are worrying about buying Christmas. What does that mean, exactly? How does one “buy” Christmas? Is there a way to buy the birth of Christ? What is the purpose of all the money that’s being thrown around this time of the year? (I chose the word “thrown” deliberately. In essence, a goodly portion of the money spent at Christmastime is money blown.)
People who are still paying credit cards and Christmas loans from not just last year, but the year before and the year before that, are planning to put more on credit cards. Why?
And there are those who say, “There won’t be any (or much) Christmas at my house this year, I don’t have any money.” Since when did Christ’s birth cost you money?
I have to stop here and say that I have been guilty of saying some of the above in times past. And I have gone into deeper debt when I couldn’t afford what I was already paying out. Just so that I don’t sound all judgmental….
When (and how) did we get it all so twisted? Buying, buying, buying, going deeper in debt, swimming dangerously near the pool of bankruptcy…HOW does this celebrate Christmas? If just half the money spent in the US on Christmas were given to worthy charities…well, my mind will not even compute the possibilities.
When Christmas becomes the burden of buying instead of the celebration of God’s gift of his only Son to us, we have really big problems.
Instead of toys that will be lying all over the house within weeks, why not give your children the ultimate gift? Time. Wrap up a hand-made certificate that gives them one night a week of YOUR TIME for the next year to play games, bake cookies, read stories, have a Bible study, just to listen to them talk, help them write and illustrate stories. One evening with no yelling, no criticizing, just your time. Just you. Can you think of a better gift?
Do you cook? Give the gift of choice. One night each week, the kids get to choose (and help fix) dinner. They get to plan, help shop, and learn to cook, and learn a lot about an important part of life as they go.
Do you smoke? Give it up for your children and loved ones so that they will have you longer. Can’t manage that? Go to the doctor, they have plenty of ways to help you.
Make pretty cards to give to family members and tell them how much they mean to you. Tell them what you don’t normally tell them… bring up things from the past that they did that means a lot to you, and let them know this many years later, you still very much appreciate it.
Give a certificate of labor to your parents….to clean the gutters, rake all those leaves and brush up and haul them away, clean the windows, or whatever else they may have mentioned over the years that needs to be done.
Take the five or ten dollars that you would have spent on 10 different people and make one $50 or $100 donation to a worthy charity. Give each of those people a handmade certificate telling them that in their honor, you donated to St. Jude’s…or where ever.
If you find yourself short on cash this year, consider these types of gifts, which are much more celebratory than your spending money that you don’t have…and for what purpose? Will your family love you any less at Christmas when you don’t have extra money, than they did in June when you didn’t have extra money? If you can’t afford it, those people who love you truly wouldn’t want you to go in debt for them, but they would appreciate your giving of yourself.