I’m looking forward to a stress-free Thanksgiving to Christmas season once again. We all know that gift-giving is the thing that brings on the pressure. Finding “just the right gift” can be daunting, especially for people who already have everything they could possibly want already. We enjoyed years of Christmas gift-giving as a family, and I don’t regret it, nor do I have any criticism of those who do it, even extravagantly if they can afford it. Love can be shown that way, and needs can be met. Go for it, and have the most fun you can.
I’ve never found any Bible passage to put gift-giving down, just as I’ve not found any requiring us to celebrate Christ’s birth on a certain day at all. That’s all optional. In fact, it either can be done or not done while still pleasing God. They are two unconnected things and it is best to remember that as you make your decisions. But gift exchange does add a lot of stress both before and (for those who take most things back, or have credit card debt) even after Christmas Day.
Our kids may well take up the gift-giving practice as their children are growing up, or as younger married couples. That’s their business. If so, I know they will do so in a way that is both fun and honors Christ. We’ll try to fit in however they lead us. But for the last few years, the whole family has been in self-imposed Christmas detox—and loving every minute of it.
Our decision doesn’t mean that we’ll refuse to give at all during this time; the Lord can lead us to do that at any time of the year, even the Christmas season. Someone in the family may do it, but our expectations of giving and receiving as a Christmas ritual have been agreeably and mutually zapped. We’ll attempt to make it our focus to enjoy each other and our friends, and the Lord. I promise you, we’ll have no sense of loss, and will actually feel like we’re giving a better gift to our family when we relieve the pressures of this harried and expensive season.
Oh yes, one exception: I will have a very cool White Elephant gift for the church party chosen from my collection of strange and useless items at home.
Enjoy the season, and whatever you do, do it with conviction and joy!