My parents always got us three Christmas gifts each.
We also received one gift from each set of grandparents.
That was it.
Gifts are a huge stressor during the holidays, for so many reasons.
We want to make sure everyone is happy with what they got.
We want to meet their expectations—that we spent enough money on them, that we got them a big enough gift, in an adequate quantity, to bring screams of Christmas joy.
So we exhaust ourselves with shopping and wrapping, bury ourselves in debt, and worry that it’s enough.
Giving fewer gifts would eliminate a lot of this stress, but in our minds we feel like this is some kind of Christmas cop-out. Like we’re somehow letting down the spirit of Santa.
Believe it or not, Christmas shouldn’t be about stuff.
We know this intellectually.
There’s nothing wrong with stuff, but an excessive focus on gifts points to materialism.
Remember The Grinch, that classic Christmas movie we watch every year, when the Whos are happy on Christmas morning without gifts? That should be all of us.
In fact, I daresay that if Christmas is primarily about gifts in your family then you have some misplace d priorities. I know some people really, really enjoy giving gifts—choosing the perfect item, wrapping it beautifully, and seeing the response when it’s opened. A giving heart is a beautiful thing, but if it’s causing you stress, just enjoy it on a smaller scale.
As I mentioned, we had modest Christmases growing up.
Now admittedly, my parents had always done this, so there was nothing to “undo”—but I’ll tell you that we never felt cheated on Christmas morning. We loved gifts (who doesn’t?) but Christmas was about much more than gifts to us. It was about Jesus and traditions and memory-making and that special Christmas feeling that came with all of those things.
I’ve heard this rule of thumb too:
Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read
Or, instead of giving gifts to each other, give gifts to Jesus on his birthday, like the Voskamp family.
Make this the year that you cut back on gifts.
Give two, or three, or five. Pick a number.
Stick with it and don’t feel guilty.
(Don’t let anyone else guilt you either. This could be the perfect time for a chat about materialism and what Christmas should be about.)
Christmas just got a whole lot easier!
How has gift-giving caused stress in your home? How do you keep gifts in perspective?
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