I’m linking up with Wives of Faith again for today’s blog topic:
How has Christmas changed for you as you have gotten older?
Growing up as a PK (preacher’s kid, for those of you who may not be down with the lingo….), Christmas was always about Jesus. I am blessed that that is the case. That hasn’t and won’t change!
One way Christmas has changed as I have gotten older is in respect to gift-giving.
My dad commented on another blog post and said (in part), “I think we were well-intentioned as parents in celebrating Christmas with many gifts to exchange, a way of expressing love for one another in the family. However, I also think that it is better that several years ago we began shifting the focus away from giving presents to one another to giving gifts in honor of members of the family to ministry to those outside of the family who are in need.”
I do agree that we had more extravagant Christmases when I was younger, and I feel that the changes in my family over the past several years in respect to our gifting have been good ones. My dad still feels that we still give too much attention to spending money on each other and not enough to giving to those in need outside of our family; while I understand his servant-hearted spirit, I feel in many ways that we have found a good balance… from my perspective, at least. I am not certain what amount goes into gifting overall from others in my family, but in recent years I have set what I thought were reasonable budgets for Christmas shopping overall (as well as for individuals).
Giving or receiving gifts are love languages. I can’t recall a time in my adult life when I was focused on the possible monetary value of the gift rather than its sentimental and personal value (and I do have my parents in part to thank for shaping my viewpoint of priorities!). I think it is important to give gifts to our loved ones when we can to show them things we appreciate about them. I think it can be too easy to take our loved ones for granted and not appreciate the ways they have been there for us in the past if we decide to only give to the least, the last and the lost. I don’t think anyone in either of our families (mine or N’s) “expects” gifts. We don’t feel that anyone should ever give a gift out of “obligation”; we feel that you should give with a joyful heart, out of the abundance of what God has given you.
Giving gifts inter-family is something that N and I feel we should do for two reasons. First, because we are joyful about the ways in which God has blessed us! Second, because when gifts are given in the right spirit and express knowledge of a need or a desire, it is a tangible expression of our love for each other. Just because my family members are not typical examples of “the least, the lost, and the last” doesn’t mean that each member lacks needs and desires; it delights me to know that God can use me to help meet those needs and delight their hearts in a unique and personal way. After all, God didn’t stop at just saving us from Hell, he continues to work in us for good until completion… and throughout the process, I am constantly finding little (and big) ways that God delights my heart. Why wouldn’t I want to share that with my family?
God wants us to develop a network and a support group around each other that we can add people to. While some people may be called to “abandon family for the mission field”, I feel that unless God shows us otherwise, our family should be an integral part of our “network”, whether we are blessed with a family that needs to see people act out Christ’s love from an evangelical perspective, or blessed with family who can encourage us forward in our walk with Christ. The fallacy is not in the gift-giving itself, but rather the extravagance that it can become. If it is the center of your Christmas, then I feel you have lost sight of what Christmas is for and should mean. As I said in the beginning of my post, Christmas for me always has been and always will be about celebrating Jesus.
In closing, I would like to say that the object of this post wasn’t to pick on my dad; He has a wonderful desire to serve others as an expression of celebration for Christ’s birth, and I am so thankful that I was raised by parents who are so servant-hearted. I am also thankful that God has blessed me with the opportunity to serve others; in fact, I am extra excited because this Saturday, our Sisterhood table is reaching out to an economically challenged family of 7 for Christmas through a joint effort between our church and the city. I have been looking forward to this opportunity to bless this family since it was presented to us several months ago! I cannot wait to tell you all about it!
How has Christmas changed for you as you have gotten older? I would love to hear from you!
I’m linking up with some wonderful military wives as we celebrate 12 days of Christmas by answering questions and sharing memories. Head on over to Wives of Faith and check it out… or even join in if you’re a military spouse!