Ok so I’m having a very bah-humbug moment, and it’s all about Christmas presents.
To be honest, it always happens around this time of year, shortly before Christmas, when I haven’t bought all the presents, I’ve given away my best ideas for the kids presents (for family to buy) and then get stressed. And the thing I focus on in that stress is:
‘WHY AM I DOING THIS?’
Now I will be honest that it only comes out when it all comes to a head like this, but… I do ask myself this question every year and then I bombard my husband with it all too.
‘WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?’
We don’t have that many presents to buy and we can afford to, it’s not the money I object to (well maybe a little bit) but the heart of it all. Christmas is about Jesus. A message of love. A message of hope. A message of joy. For me the most important thing about Christmas is spending time with the people I love and sharing some of that love with each other.
Years ago my Dad always got socks and pants at Christmas, every year without fail (a present which is banned in this house due to it’s mundanity) and I just think ‘what is that about?’ Go buy your own pants and socks! That’s not a Christmas present!
My husband laughs at me and say ‘but we are blessing people’ in giving gifts. Which yes, we are, and that sentiment I love, but giving someone an Amazon voucher or a pot plant or even cash does not in my book constitute blessing someone, it means conforming to a standard. A worldly standard that is based on expectations. A blessing would be really doing something thoughtful, actually spending time thinking about what would be a really nice gift for that person, or doing something for them rather than buying tat, even if it is expensive tat.
Of course I don’t actually do the thoughtful thing, largely because I don’t have the time. But I should.
I used to do things like baking, or making for people and it meant so much more because I was really sowing (or sewing!) love into those gifts, really thinking about the person they were going to. In fact what would be a real blessing now would be to give people my time. That’s the thing I have least of, and the thing that it’s so hard to give up and would mean the most, certainly from the perspective of giving.
This week I found myself buying gifts because I had to, not thoughtfully, or even just thinking whether they would like them, but because I have no time left and right now Amazon Prime is my best friend. Then we had a conversation about giving cash as a gift and this years rant began…
And look I am being a total hypocrite, I know. When people ask what I would like for Christmas I always say vouchers because I haven’t actually thought about what I would like and to be honest we don’t need anything anyway. But then isn’t that missing the whole point of giving a Christmas gift? I mean just even asking ‘what would I like’? That shouldn’t be how a Christmas present works! It should be given with love and thought and care and yes of course over the years I have had some really stonkers (they get regifted of course) but actually I think I’d rather that. I think truly we have all got caught up in the consumerism (yes I said it, you knew it was coming didn’t you) of it all and forgotten what it’s all about.
Years ago I wrote a song about God’s ‘gift from heaven’ having been inspired by a Christmas sermon. These are some words from it:
You are the Saviour, You are the son
Sent to earth to save us, by God above.
Imagine his hurt and pain when every door was closed,
The Father sent his only son,
The gift for us he chose…
You are our gift from heaven,
Sent to save us all.
A gift from Heaven,
Jesus Lord of all…
It goes on, but that is the sentiment that gets me riled. God’s gift, the ultimate gift, was His Son. A gift that was full of love, given at great expense, but given also to us in our need. That’s what I want my Christmas gifts to reflect, not the 5 mins I’ve actually spent online choosing something almost at random.
I’ve now had this Christmas present rant every year for the past 10 or so years. I make comments to my husband that we should buy everyone an Oxfam cow or twin a toilet for them, or do something different, and each year he gives me the ‘we are blessing people’ speech and I back down. So someone please, remind me of this post in about November next year. Perhaps I’ll actually listen to my own thinking and we’ll finally do something different…
I would really love to know peoples thoughts on this. Why do you give Christmas presents? What is the heart behind it? Would you rather get a gift you know you want or is a risky surprise better? do comment here or Facebook and Twitter…