When Gifts are Big and the Gospel is Small | from the archives

Not surprisingly, Graeme already equates Christmas with gifts. I love his boyish excitement at just the sight of the Christmas aisle in Target. "It's the Christmas time, mommy!". (I'm loving the random articles in his sentences these days.) I have no desire to squelch his newly found delight in all things Christmas, but I do want to couple it to the beauty of Christ. And that is difficult. For one, he's three. And also? Gifts are just so captivating to a three year old! Actually, to thirty-one-year-olds too.

Christmas is complicated because I make it complicated. Gifts trump the gospel because I let them. But, on the flip side, that child-like wonder of Christmas that I see in my boys' faces can easily be crushed, too, if I major on the Joy of Heaven without linking it to the joys of earth. Because, in a sense, we are Christmas to our children. That statement might sound like heresy, but I honestly believe it isn't. (Read this article -- it explains it well.)

So, for me, it boils down to this: prayerful intentionality. (It usually does with anything in life, doesn't it?) Here are my intentions for coalescing all of these aspects of Christmas. I would love to hear your plans too! 

First off, I am really looking forward to doing a book Advent calendar. (This blog explains it well.) Each night, beginning on December 1st, we'll open a Christmas-themed book. Some of the books will be about the everyday joys of Christmas and where our holiday traditions stem from and others will be about the birth and life of Jesus. But all of them will give opportunities for discussion and learning which, at this age of three, is a wonderful thing. I am already anticipating the "what this is?" and "what these are?" questions.

Before I had children, I kind of scoffed at the idea of a birthday cake for Jesus. I mean, seriously, Jesus does not need cake. And that's true, but our children might. They need to see us celebrate the birth of Jesus and hoop and holler just like we do for their special day. And in the mind of my three year old, a birthday cake is tops. The top of the tops. The organic, chocolate covered cherry on top, wink! I'm sure the 'top of the tops' looks different for many children and I'd love to hear your thoughts on that as well.

I want to make sure that I haven't given the impression that just because I want to focus on giving my children the gospel throughout Christmas doesn't mean that I won't also be giving them gifts. In fact, that is one way that I plan to share the gospel with them! These gifts pale in comparison to God's gift to us. Common sense to us, I'm sure, but hopefully a little seed will be planted in their hearts. I'll end this post by sharing our plan for gift-giving. In addition to participating in a few community gift-giving opportunities, (I am thrilled to participate in Operation Christmas Child for the first time!) here is our family plan. And, although the plan is simple, it is very adequate. Last year, we put it into action and, well, there's a reason that we're giving it another go this year! 

I'd love to hear your thoughts and plans for the Christmas season, if you have time to share. Any special ways of celebrating, long-standing traditions, meaningful books-- I'd love to hear it all. Thanks for reading here and happy Monday to you. And, by the way, the winner of the Minted 2013 Christmas Card giveaway is Jenna! Many congratulations!

*This morning, we took the boys to pick out their yearly ornaments. Jobie chose a blown-glass police car and Graeme-bear chose an Angry Bird. We were not at all surprised! Thankfully, Graeme also fell in love with a narwhal and we're all hoping its beauty will overshadow that of the beloved Angry Bird. (smile) Our boys (and probably us, too!) are trudging through a serious case of 'the gimmies' this week. And so, I felt like digging this post out of the archives. 


  1. Anonymous5:30 AM

    This will by the last Christmas my husband and I share alone before our little girl arrives. It's really made me more aware of the consumerism that surrounds this holiday. We have already begun talking about how we want to introduce Christ's birthday to our girl some day, and I loved reading your take on it.

    1. Jenna,
      What a special Christmas for you and your husband as you look to the exciting future with your little one. Man, it sounds so cliche' to say this, but, I'll say it anyway-- so many things change when you have little ones, don't they? You begin thinking through things that you didn't have a reason to think through before. And it's so good. And it's hard, too. Boy, let me tell you, the balance of wanting to lavish gifts on your children but yet teach them that those gifts won't ever satisfy? So hard. Thanks for talking with me here! So happy for your little family!

  2. I love this. It's so needed, so full of balance and thought. I forget how I found your blog originally, but I'm so glad I did. Really, so blessed by your gospel-driven heart. A beautiful work of the Spirit in you. We tend to make gifts a minimum around here, partly due to financial necessity, but mostly due to a need to emphasize the focus. We would also love to encourage our 3-year-old to learn to give. Having her help deliver baked goods, mix up a batch of cookies, hand out her paintings and artwork to others, are some of the ways she's joining in. We try to work "Christmas" language in to every day conversations. Like where good gifts comes from. Why mommy and daddy want to give good gifts. I keep reminding myself that though she won't understand a whole lot now, it's good practice for us, and a helpful foundation for her. It's a process. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Susanna,
      You'll have to forgive me for two things-- a very late response to your comment and also the fact that I haven't gotten over to your space to officially say hello! We've been without internet over the last week or so and I am, right now!, sitting in a Starbucks trying to catch up on emails etc while the baristas kindly say, "we are actually closing in 7 minutes" :) So, let me just say, I'm thankful for the time you took to write back to me. I love the ways that you are showing your little one giving-- giving of what she has *now*. Love that. I need to work on that with my little guys. I'll look forward to hearing more about your process if you have time to share!

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