It's a big topic this time of year. How do you handle gifts at Christmas time in an attempt to avoid the consumerism of it and focus on Jesus? In 2011, Jen Hatmaker wrote a popular blog "The Christmas Conundrum." It is circulating around my Facebook circles right now.
I like Jen. She makes me laugh. She has a much greater sense of humor than I do. I find myself trying to downsize Christmas at the time of my adopted child's first Christmas in America as she was at the time she wrote the blog. She offers this, now popular, solution to the consumerism.
Something you want,
Something you need,
Something to wear,
Something to read.
It has a nice poetic rhythm and rhyme to it. It's better than "everything I want" and "the more the better." Many, many of my Facebook friends follow it.
I discussed it with my 9-year-old son today and he confirmed my thoughts.
"What would a need be mom? You said something to wear, and we have a warm house and plenty of food. You already provide for my needs." Oh how this child blesses me beyond words.
What are we communicating to our children about NEED if we go this route? In my humble opinion, if we give socks and underwear as a gift at Christmas, we are sucking the supernatural, enchanting wonder out of it. (Note: Christmas IS supernatural, enchanting and wondrous even without Santa Clause!)
I'm a parent and I'm going to meet my children's needs as they arise regardless of season or holiday. Even if we get them that more expensive pair of light up or name brand shoes for Christmas...isn't that more of a "desired necessity" than a NEED?
I know, I know, that doesn't fit our poetic scheme. But good gravy...I do not need my daughter reminding me later that a different color sandals was a NEED at Christmas so it must be a NEED now!
Moving on....and more about Jen later.
I then asked my son what Christmas is about other than Jesus. His answer was simply "spending time with family you don't usually get to spend time with." Most of our family lives distantly, so I asked if he would prefer to spend the money visiting them or buying more expensive gifts. He chose visiting family. I could not be prouder.
I went on to post the question on Facebook. I got 35 responses in less than an hour. Here they are, in order, without repeats, and nothing excluded.
Let's go back to Jen again. The year she wrote this particular blog, she was adding "something to give" to the mix. She and her husband, Brandon, were giving each of their kids $100
"to spend on the vulnerable. This is part of their Christmas present,
because as you and I know, it just feels so awesome to be a part of
Jesus' redemptive story. We will give them some options, and they can
distribute their money however they want."
Now here is something I can get on board with! I love this Jen! (If you read my blog, please leave a comment so I can feel....honored!)
Now, if you're like me, you can't afford $100 per child. I'm going to make $100 for our family and we will choose where it goes together. Jen lists some great ideas with giving options as low as $10.
I'm going to give you some giving options that are close to my heart. I challenge you to pick one word out from the list above that you most feel you want to give this Christmas season. Talk to your kids about what they want to give. Then, pick a cause you feel most fits that gift, and GIVE IT! It will bless you to GIVE!
#1) Bring Sofi Home for Christmas: Sofi is an orphan. She has a family waiting. Her family is $1,000 short of fees to Sofi's government. If they can raise this amount quickly, they could possibly have Sofi home for Christmas....Sofi doesn't know or understand Christmas, and having her home for Christmas isn't what's most important. Having her home as soon as possible is. Everyday means something for this four-year-old little girl who can't roll over or eat solid foods because of severe neglect and untreated disability. I'd tell you about her awesome family, but it's really not so much about them, as it is about Sofi. Someone has offered a $1,000 matching grant to Sofi's family. Their you caring account is currently at $13,063.95. This donor will match dollar for dollar donations up to $1,000 between now and Dec. 1. Help get their you caring account to $14,063.95...and be blessed watching it grow and your donation be doubled! You can donate at:
#2) Help Special Needs Orphans in Russia and China: I created the non-profit Polina's Promise in my daughter's name. If you've followed my blog, you know the story. If you don't, http://penniesforaprincess.blogspot.com/2012/12/death-would-be-better.html is a good place to start. Donations made to Polina's Promise through Paypal are tax deductible and will go to providing training for physical, occupational, speech and developmental therpaists to work with special needs orphans and families in Russia or to furnish a special needs home for children in China. You can not specifically where you would like your donation to go, if you'd like. Just send your paypal donation to firstname.lastname@example.org
#3) If domestic and/or interracial adoption is where your heart is, I happen to know an awesome family who is early on in their adoption and would be greatly blessed by your donation this Christmas. You can read their story at http://waitingforbabyd.com/ and you can donate t.o them through paypal at email@example.com
Those are places where my heart is...orphans and special needs. This is where I find I can give life, family, hope, redemption, mercy, grace, love, joy, belonging and rescue! This is where I find endless wonder and supernatural miracles.
If those don't appeal to you, have a look at Jen's list, or just go and serve a meal at your local Salvation Army or other soup kitchen. Suck up your pride and take the homeless person at the mall for lunch.
Just give this season....give to someone you wouldn't normally give to. Teach your kids what it is to sacrifice and to give. I promise you won't regret it!
If your family doesn't have their needs met....feel free to comment...it will go to my email and I won't publish it, but I'd like to help you find a place your needs can be met.
The rest of us...let's get real about what a NEED is. Make up your own categories...give, want, read, wear, play, create, sport, health...whatever you feel appropriate for your family at this time. Change it each year as your family changes and grows. But I beg you, don't pick categories based on their rhythmic quality and pay attention to what your categories communicate to your children.
And here is Jen's blog: http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2011/11/29/the-christmas-conundrum