“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-12
It might seem a little early to talk about Christmas presents, but since “the biggest shopping day of the year” (aka “Black Friday”) is in two days I thought I’d share how we do Christmas presents in our family. I know I am always looking for new and better ideas.
Before having kids my husband and I made a Christmas gift-giving commitment. After seeing the amount of presents our nieces and nephews received from grandparents and aunts and uncles, we decided we didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on toys for our children. It just isn’t necessary with the amount of presents they receive from the rest of the family.
After doing some research I found what I think is an ingenious idea of giving just three gifts like the Magi brought to Jesus. What a great way to not only prevent excess in the amount of presents we give but also redirect our kids back to the “real meaning” of Christmas! I originally found this idea in a book, but then I found this great article that expands the idea and takes into account the true symbolism of the gold, frankincense and myrrh Jesus received. (Go read it for more information and know that I acknowledge this can be kind of tricky with preschool-aged children.)
So, tweaking the gifts of the magi to work for our own family and combining it with some other family traditions, this is how our Christmas gift-giving goes down:
We love our Christmas Pajamas! (Christmas Eve 2010 with my family)
On Christmas Eve, we all open one present and that one present is always brand new pajamas we immediately put on and take pictures in (see the picture above from last year). Then we sleep in them only to wake up and look cute as we open our presents on Christmas morning. (This idea comes from my side of the family and is something I don’t remember ever not doing.) Sometimes we get matching pajamas for the guys and matching pajamas for the girls. Sometimes they all coordinate. Sometimes they don’t match at all. Either way, it’s a long-standing tradition that I can’t imagine not continuing.
On Christmas morning, each of my kids gets three presents from daddy and mommy: one representing gold, one representing frankincense and one representing myrrh. Because they are all six and under, they also still get one present from Santa. This present typically isn’t wrapped, which distinguishes it from the other three gifts and gets it out of the way first. (I know everyone has a different opinion about Santa, but my husband and I agree that as long as we are making it clear Christmas is about Christ there is no harm in allowing our kids to believe in Santa for as long as they choose to do so.)
The other thing we do– which is unrelated to Black Friday shopping—is, prior to Christmas, each family member chooses a charity or non-profit for us to give to on his or her behalf. For example, last year my kiddos pooled their money and gave a goat to a family in Africa through World Vision. I love all the options World Vision and similar organizations have for giving because they’re a great way to help your kids understand just how much for which they have to be thankful. When you explain that a child in Africa will be thrilled to get a goat so he can have milk to drink while they are getting toys for Christmas, it puts it all in perspective!
That sums up our Christmas gift-giving. The thing I love the most about this plan is I always know what my plan is. There is no worrying about buying the same amount of presents for each kid. It all evens out. And that alleviates a lot of stress.
So, whether you’re a Black Friday shopper or not, my prayer for you as this Christmas season officially begins on Friday is that you will remember in all the hustle and bustle to rejoice in the Christ Child and the Giver of all good things! Happy Thanksgiving (and happy shopping on Friday)!