Q. My children are adults and have children of their own. With so many in our family - a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law plus grandchildren - the number of gifts we buy has multiplied. At the same time we have less need for things. I want Christmas to be about the birth of Christ and a time of family connection rather than about material things. How can we make gift giving more meaningful?
It’s difficult to keep Christmas giving meaningful when our society has commercialized it so. To do so will require thoughtful planning and determination.
Talk over with the adults in your family your thoughts are about Christmas. If they’re receptive to your ideas then all of you can work out a plan to make your Christmas especially meaningful. If some are not receptive to this you can still make your own gifts meaningful. One significant way to make Christmas meaningful is to give of ourselves to those in need. If all the adults agree, you can adopt a needy family and give them Christmas. Enlist the children in purchasing for the children in the other family. This will help your grandchildren learn to care about others and learn that not everyone is well off.
Christmas gifts that are most meaningful are those that show our love. Here are some ideas for “love gifts.”
1. Write a note expressing your love and caring for each family member. Be specific about what you like and love about this person; tell them what they mean to you. This is a gift that costs no money yet it may mean more than a very expensive item.
2. Give your time and service. A gift certificate to baby sit your grandchild while the parents go out will mean a great deal and will give you a bonding time in the future with your grandchildren. Be creative and think of other gifts of service you might offer. These could include helping clean a garage, giving back rubs, reading to or tutoring a child.
3. Give an outing. A gift certificate for an outing is a gift that is enjoyed on Christmas as well as later. Create your own certificates entitling your grandson or granddaughter to a meal out, an over night visit or a trip to a museum. The possibilities are endless. Don’t forget the adults. Give an evening out for all the adults with you picking up the tab for the dinner and a movie or play.
4. Let an adult son or daughter know of a meaningful gift they can give you. Perhaps you would like a tour of their work place and lunch afterwards.
5. Give something you’ve made. Handmade gifts have special meaning. The time and effort they take convey caring. Pay attention to the person's favorite colors and their interests to make this especially meaningful.
6. Look for unique gifts that will match the person's interests. This conveys the fact that you really know and understand the person to whom you’re giving. It shows you have made a real effort to please him or her with your gift.
7. Enjoy the gifts, but focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Include a manger scene in your decorations. Worshiping each Advent Sunday and Christmas Eve will make your Christmas meaningful in an eternal way. When the family gathers on Christmas Day read the Christmas Scripture together. (Last week I posted a family script for this.)
Mother Teresa once said, “It’s not how much you do but how much love you put into what you are doing, that matters.” I hope these ideas will make your Christmas more meaningful for you and your family.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father.” James 1:17