When we welcomed our first child years ago, we approached our first Christmas with her with a bit of apprehension. Sure, we were typical parents excited at the notion of buying gifts for our little one. However, we also worried that our children might grow up thinking, as many kids in society do today, that Christmas was all about getting and greed. We feared Jesus just might be left out of the very celebration of His own birth!
Thus we began a tradition that stuck at our house. It is the practice of giving our dear offspring just three gifts each Christmas. Of course they still get a stocking full of goodies. However, there are no mounds of presents presenting the opportunity for wanting more, more, more!!!! Our kiddos get the same number of gifts as were given to the very first recipient of a Christmas gift so many years ago. Three. Remember baby Jesus and the gold, frankincense and myrrh?
Here is how we tweaked the idea to make it fit and to make it fun. For a few years, they received one present that was something to play with, one that was something to read and one that was something to wear. As they grew older and acting on a tip from a gal in one of my workshops, we modified a bit and tied these items into the gifts Jesus’ received. Here’s how:
· First, they get a “gold” gift. Gold is precious and priceless and highly desired. So, they get one item they really, really want! It is their gold gift. Sometimes this was a toy. As they got older, it could be jewelry, a video game, or some other such big ticket item,
· Next, we have frankincense. It burned and arose during prayer. It was meant to draw you close to God. So, their frankincense present is something that helps them in their walk with Christ. It can be a new Bible, journal and Bible markers, or tickets to hear a concert or Christian speaker. Maybe it is a weekend youth retreat pass or a new book or leather journal that will help them in their spiritual life.
· Finally, we have myrrh. This was a spice that actually accompanied burial and covered a person from head to toe. So, they too get something that will go on their body. Perhaps it is a new coat, an awesome outfit they have been eyeing. For my boys it has been hunting clothes and boots or for our daughter it has been a new dress. Anything that they can wear.
Being purposeful in limiting the amount of gifts and tying it in with that first Christmas long ago has been a bright spot in what could otherwise be a very commercial Christmas. And it has forced me, as a mom, to be intentional and creative rather than just picking up all of the latest “must-haves” of the season. You just might want to try it!
And please note: This doesn’t mean I don’t go overboard. You see, I am really good with this “just three gifts” idea. It is their stockings that I tend to overload!!! YIKES!!!