Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Gift Debate

It's the holidays, obviously. And as you know, I'm a big fan.

The family get togethers, the last minute shopping, the amazing meals, the look on the kids faces - all of it is wonderful to me. Just, wonderful.

But this year is a little different. With almost 6 kids, Christmas isn't cheap anymore. And even with that fact set aside, I just feel like the girls get SO much from everyone, when they really already have all they need. We by no means are real flourished with money, and even if we were, the girls wouldn't get everything they want. It just doesn't work like that around here.

We knew that having a big family would mean that everyone would not always get what they want, sacrifices would be made at times, and that we would probably never be real "well off". And honestly, I don't want to be. We're not exactly chasin' the American dream here :). But in my opinion, no money could ever top what we have been given.

The world can keep that dream, I'll take this dream.

Those girls are spoiled rotten with love anyway, no material item would ever compare to what they already have. Thankyouverymuch :).

Don't get me wrong though. Those little ladies have my number for sure. They ask for this or that, and flash some blue (or brown) eyed smiles at me, and I can cave like nothing you've ever seen.

It's hard to say no to a face like that, but I do say no. A lot.

So this year I have looked and looked at the ads. I've counted what we've saved (we have saved for the holiday season), mapped out what I'm going to pick up for the girls, and I get all excited about seeing the look on their sweet little faces when they open it. But at the same time I feel this pull, this feeling in my heart that we should be doing Christmas gifts differently, even though thats what the kiddos really look forward to.

After all, it's not about the gifts, it's about Him. The One who gave us all we have, the One who provides for our every need, and the One who gives me the amazing gift of Grace when I open my eyes every morning.

So I question myself - do they get 1 gift, 3 gifts, 6 gifts? When is enough enough? Should they give a gift to someone in need for every gift they get from us?

I just want them to really understand that this is all about giving, not receiving, you know?

So I ask you - how do you do Christmas in your house? Gifts? Traditions? Ground rules :)?

I'd love to hear...


Jenn said...

When I was a kid, I got the ENTIRE world for Christmas. I mean really. The next day I could not even make a list of all I got because there was just SO much.

When it was just my step-daughter, and then even my Son & Step-Daughter, we went all out. Not quite like my childhood, but I'd say 6 or so gifts from mom/dad/sibs and then santa stuff.

Now that we are on our 3rd child things are a changin! This year each kid will get 2 gifts from Mom & Dad, and 1 from santa. Maybe one from a sibling if we feel generous, but we will see.

I think it's more the idea behind the holiday, not going crazy with gifts.

Amber said...

we have a pretty tight budget for each kid, and when i reach that amount, i just have to MAKE myself stop. :) we also did a good amount of operation christmas child boxes this year, as well as donating gifts to a foster agency in the area. definitely want them to know its about giving too! we also do a jesse tree, and i think that helps keep their focus on what it's about. but of course i still hear about TOYS much more than i'd like :)

Tina Michelle said...

Each year our kids each get one small gift from us. We don't do santa. This year, not sure if we will e able to even do that.

Sarah said...

How is it that you always seem to take the words right out of my mouth. I read your blog on most days and think "How did she know I was JUST thinking that?" haha

Hubby and I were just talking about this last night. Our three each have 5 gifts under the tree right now...only ONE toy each. I keep telling myself we are done, and not to buy more, but I can't help it. I feel guilty that there isn't more.

That's when I got to thinking...Our girls are three and we never discussed if we are going to let them believe in the whole 'SANTA' thing. They do at the moment from all of the movies, shows and books, but I don't want them to forget why we celebrate the day to begin with.

Next year I am making each of my three girls spnsor an angel tree kid around their age. I also think we are going to buy them as many gifts as they NEED and only do one (maybe two) toys each year.

I can't wait to see what everyone writes!!

Anonymous said...

I too got the entire world for Christmas. I honestly remember mountains of presents as a child, and while I was grateful... it has certainly made it harder for me as an adult not to do the same for my 3 kiddos.

I think we probably stick closer to a dollar amount rather than a number of presents and we try and to get as much for that dollar as possible.

This year we had almost nothing for Christmas and I was racking my brain trying to figure out what to do. I happened to be walking through one of the big box stores the other day when I spotted the Halloween clearance. That particular day all the costumes were 90% off and I was able to pick up 30 costumes for 40 dollars. So I decided each of the kids would get a dress up bin from us as our big gift.

The rest of the gifts usually come from relatives and friends.We use those to fill stockings and be the other gifts under the tree.

Our only other tradition per say would be decorating a gingerbread house together. The kids love it and look forward to it every year. :0)

Marisa said...

All good questions! We certainly don't have this down to a science either, but here are a few things we've decided:

1) We don't "celebrate" Santa which can make for some very awkward moments because that's is what everyone asks your kids about. Sometimes people look at us like we have 3 heads when we tell them we don't incorporate Santa into Christmas. Our kids know who "he" is... just a nice story, but that's it. I am afraid though that our kids will spoil the surprise for another child :(

2. The kids get 3 gifts each, based on the wise men bringing 3 gifts to Jesus. They also get stocking stuffers though.

3. We do Operation Christmas Child boxes and we usually try to find another family to support.

4. This year I would love to find a needy family we could donate a box of food to so they can have their own Christmas dinner at home. Of course, have the kids be involved in picking out the food, packing the box, etc.

Just a few ideas.... I would love to find even more to help them understand it truly is more wonderful to give than receive.

Thoughts for the day said...

This is a very good question.
As a grandma of six grandchildren we have been talking about what do we do now that our family is growing?
We decided the adults will get one couple gift and two personal gifts. (this year I made each couple a homemade quilt) then the children will get three gifts each. Usually pj's and slippers, a toy of some kind, then something special. When we only had the first granddaughter she was given much... now we are on a stricter budget and really they don't NEED anything. (I already bought them winter coats) hope this helps a little.

Sarah said...

we do 3 gifts, because that is how many Jesus got from the wise men :) good enough for Jesus, good enough for us!

peapodsquadmom said...

our triplets are the only grandchildren on both sides of the family. there is NO stopping our parents at christmas. that has freed us from feeling the need to overdo it ourselves. we started a tradition of "santa" only bringing 3 gifts per child...just as baby jesus got 3 gifts. because we've done it like that all along, they've never questioned it.

Jennifer said...

I have some advent and jesse tree stuff that I think you might LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to have. We are making this a season of purpose so that the kids know what our "gift" really is. If you are interested let me know on FB.

wonderchris said...

I love to make presents.

But as far as receiving goes, for me so much of the joy is unwrapping presents. Even if it is just a tube of chapstick. :) I would much rather unwrap 10 little things than one big thing.

Amy@My Front Porch said...

You are so right -- it's sooo tempting to go overboad! We just started a tradition last year -- each of our kids will get something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. It has really helped us simplify when it comes to what we buy! Although reading the other comments, the idea of buying 3 gifts like the 3 wise men is a great one too!

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

I think it can be tough to not emphasize presents on Christmas, given the cultural focus on them, but I think that kids reaction towards them and influence towards the presents will be influenced by how your raise them everyday, not just Christmas. And you clearly do that right.

Journey Back said...

Hey Kate, it's Janeen from the GAP. I give my kids 3 gifts each and that's it, after all we're Celebrating the birth of Jesus and when the wise men came they brought one gift each so a total of three. Ask your girls what I asked my kids.. Do you think you deserve more gifts than Jesus? :)

susan said...

Kate, we have nine children to consider. Three adult children who's expectations of Christmas are very different to that of our younger ones. We have a very small Christmas stocking that gets filled with some cute little things like puzzles, lollies, a toy car, yo-yo... that sort of thing. That is what they get from Santa. I've found over the years it's easy to wean them off the idea of Santa if they do not get massive & expensive gifts from him. {and btw we have never actually confessed to ANY of them that santa is not completely real... they MUST continue to believe to receive a santa stocking!!}

We get them a few things each form us and a few smaller things from their siblings. Maybe about 7-8 things each. NOTHING is very expensive though.... although as you get teenagers the cost just goes up. Our teens will have more spent on them but the younger ones will get more..... I hope that makes sense!

Anonymous said...

We do three gifts per child.-- and nothing over 20 dollars.

We do a little something for the widows of our church.

Marva said...

Hi Kate! I am new to your blog. I came over from Nikki's Notes! I love your blog! I also have twins, although just one set and they are boys. They are now 4 years old.

I love Christmas and all of the holidays!

We give the boys 3 gifts from santa (each)....representing the 3 gifts the wise men brought to baby Jesus. While we celebrate Santa we do NOT focus on him. Santa also fills a stocking for each child. We set a dollar amount for what we give the boys from us. Not a # on those.

We limit what decorations we have that have Santa. We focus on the nativity, the advent. We bake Jesus a birthday cake. We tell the story of Jesus' birth by the fireplace and drink lots of hot cocoa. We drive around and look at Christmas lights and go to the Christmas parade. We play with the boys' Nativity set.

We try to focus on HIM.....We also fix a box of food for a needy family (A whole Christmas meal) and donate it to a needy family and do Christmas shoe boxes too. The boys partcipate it in these things as well.

Anyhow...that's what works for us.

tabby said...

For our girls we are doing 2 gifts each and 1 big gift. They will also have stocking stuffers. when they get older we will probably do 3 gifts each and 1 big to share or keep it 2 with 1 big. I don't like a lot of "stuff" laying around and don't want them to be overly spoiled...as they get older they will definitely take part in the shoe box gifts etc.
It would be hard to resist those 5 sweet faces! I understand the dilema.

Jenn said...

The way we do it is very similar to Marisa's. We give 3 gifts and stocking stuffers, which generally is candy, boxes of sugar cereal(a REAL treat), fruit, toothbrushes etc.

I was just reading Thriving Family magazine which is put out by Focus on the Family and they had a tid bit on 3 gifts which I think we will use this year.

The wise men brought three gifts to Christ...

Frankincense: a gift for spiritual growth

Myrrh: a practical gift

Gold: a gift that fulfills want

Anonymous said...

We don't get the much, but they get spoiled by their grandparents. I don't really want Christmas to be about the gifts though.

heather@it'stwinsanity said...

I'm totally stealing the three gifts idea from the previous comments! I love it!

I grew up getting way too many gifts because my mom expresses love through buying gifts. She does it for my kids too-which is why they have a new swing set. My kids have entirely too much "stuff" and I hate it. My husband grew up poor and he always wants to get a lot of gifts for the kids to make up for what he feels he never had growing up. We have purged so many toys this year with the move, that I don't even want to bring another toy into this house.

My plan: I'm doing the 3 gifts idea and probably one gift from Santa. That's it. (And no more toys!) With 6 kids it will add up fast.

Happy Thanksgiving! :)