When you’re struggling to decide on a gift, consider the true meaning of Christmas. Genuine giving is not about how much you spend but how you love.
The Gift – The True Meaning Of Christmas
by Jill Cooper
She stood at the window watching the snow falling gently to the ground. Thanksgiving was over and soon it would be Christmas, her favorite time of the year. But her heart was heavy in spite of the snow and the feeling of Christmas that it should invoke. The Christmas spirit that she had felt all year long seemed to have been drained out of her with a couple of simple phone calls, each from a family member saying they didn’t want to exchange gifts this year because they couldn’t afford them.
As she turned from the window, her eyes fell on her little tree standing in the corner. Its lights twinkled ever so brightly, casting a warm glow over the small pile of gaily wrapped gifts lying under it. A smile touched her lips as she thought of each person that the gifts were for. In her mind she could see the joy and excitement on their faces as they tore open the gifts and saw what was in them.
All year, she had carefully planned their gifts and had sacrificed much time and money in order to be able to buy them. She listened to each person’s big desires and little ones and had drawn so close to them that she knew not only the things they verbally said that they wanted but also the things they hadn’t voiced. She knew she had bought each one the perfect gift — Not the most expensive gift, maybe, but the perfect one for them.
Yes, she had sacrificed a lot to buy the gifts, but because her love for each person was so great and because of the joy she felt in giving, she didn’t see it as a sacrifice at all. So what if she had to turn the heat down a couple of degrees and wear a sweater in order to be able to have a little extra to buy that special gift for someone she loved. Yes, it’s nice to go out to eat at the end of a long hard day, but it’s even nicer to watch the face of a child open a present and go into rapture over his new car or to see mom get tears in her eyes because you not only remembered her favorite perfume but also how much she had longed for it.
Of course there had been times when she had looked in the store window thinking how wonderful it would be to own a dress like that, but when it came to a choice between that and the fur trimmed coat her granddaughter wanted, the coat won hands down. To see that granddaughter running towards her and throwing her arms around her once more thanking her for the new coat would make her feel more beautiful than any new dress could.
Oh, she knew there were those out there who would scold her and say she should think of herself more and do more for herself, but she just shook her head in pity for them. They had no idea what they were missing out on with that attitude.
It was that very same attitude that had caused the heaviness on her heart right now. The phone calls she had received came from people who had spent all year spending money on the things they wanted: new cars, TVs, clothes and going out to eat and now they had nothing left to give to someone else.
“When did it happen?” she wondered, “– this change in people’s thinking.” What happened to the times when even a small gift was greatly appreciated because you knew the person had sacrificed so much in order to buy or make it? What happened to the times when parents, spouses and children worked so hard in order to be able to give that special gift to someone they loved? When did it become acceptable to call on your expensive cell phone, from your favorite restaurant, to let others know that you can’t buy them a gift this year because you can’t afford it? Had she been mistaken all this time in her understanding of gift giving?
With a droop in her shoulders she turns and walks toward the little tree. How could it have lost its sparkle in a matter of moments? Why do the presents under it suddenly look less gaily wrapped? With tears gently rolling down her cheeks, she stoops to turn off the tree’s lights. As she reaches for the plug, her hand accidentally brushes her Bible laying on the table. She looks up through the blur. Her eyes alight upon the passage on the open page. “For God so LOVED the world that he GAVE his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
A sweet peace starts warming her heart. She begins to smile and her tears are flowing even more freely now — not from sadness, but from joy. The lights on the little tree become brighter and brighter, lighting up the whole room with it’s sparkle. The gifts under it look more beautiful than those in the most expensive department stores for, in that moment, she realizes that she wasn’t wrong to love, to sacrifice and to want to give gifts to the people she loves.
Hadn’t God Himself so loved us that He gave, with the greatest of sacrifices, the most wonderful gift, His Son. She was so glad that God hadn’t spent His time in heaven selfishly using all His resources for Himself. She was thankful that He hadn’t sent her a message saying, “Sorry, but I can’t afford to give you a gift this year.”
In those few moments of heartbreak she had learned something more. She had learned what God must feel like to have the gift that He sacrificed so much to give be rejected and scorned. How hurtful to take away the blessing of giving from someone or to reject their gift.
Yes, it seemed to be popular to say, “We can’t afford to exchange gifts this year”, but it didn’t matter. She would continue to love, sacrifice and give, always following her heavenly Father’s example.
The above story is fictional but I wrote it because within a week’s time I’ve heard so many people say, “We aren’t exchanging gifts because we can’t afford it”. What was even more shocking was these words came from people who typically made more money in one week than I did in one year and yet I, with so much less income seemed to have no problem buying gifts for my whole family.
When I commented about this to my son, he said “Mom, what you don’t realize is that a lot of these people feel like if they can’t spend $400 or more on each person, they can’t afford it so they just don’t give at all.” Once again, I see it is all in the way you look at things. If you are feeling that you can’t afford Christmas gifts this year you may want to do some soul searching about the true meaning of Christmas.
Don’t let pride stand in the way of giving gifts to your friends and family. Instead of saying “We can’t afford it” which seems to be the acceptable and politically correct thing to say, be honest with yourself and others. Is there somewhere you could sacrifice something? If circumstances in your life have changed then maybe you could just say “I can’t afford to give what I used to give but I love giving gifts and I still want to exchange. I just can’t spend as much”.
Make sure you are not just saying the words “We can’t afford it” because you are tired of the hassle of shopping and trying to figure out what people want. We don’t want people to think less of us so we say “We can’t afford it” because that sounds nicer than “I don’t want to bother with finding you a gift”.
If you feel that way, then it may be that your gift giving is getting out of hand. Are you buying gifts for your hairdresser, garbage man, mailman, babysitter, and your third cousin’s fourth removed son? No wonder you are frazzled. You don’t need to explain anything to these people. Just stop buying gifts for people that aren’t close to you.
If you don’t want to mess with the gift exchange at work, just politely say you can’t do it this year. If you still feel like you have to give something and can’t say no then buy one inexpensive gift to give everyone. For example I know a woman who buys several large gingerbread men every year and gives them as Christmas gifts. Young and old alike love them and they are gender friendly. They don’t cost a lot and it saves wear and tear on her nerves trying to find that perfect Christmas gift for someone she doesn’t know very well.
Seriously think through your gift giving and your reasons for or against it. Remember it really is the thought that counts and not the expense. If you don’t think that is true, then why is it that the present your child spent $1.00 of their hard earned money on and much time and energy picking out means more than a very expensive gift given to you out of obligation by someone you don’t know very well?
So that our inbox won’t be crammed with e-mails let me end with this: I know there are times when you really and truly can’t afford to exchange gifts or maybe because of extra large families or combined families you need to draw names. That is fine. The above story isn’t describing you. You know your situation better than I and you don’t have to explain yourself to me or anyone else. Who I am talking about though, are those who sit in their favorite restaurant, where nothing on the menu is under $15, with a days worth of shopping for new clothes for themselves ($100 pair of shoes, $200 purses, $60 name brand jeans) sitting at their feet while they call to say they can’t afford to buy Christmas gifts for anyone.
Check your motives carefully and this Christmas buy your gifts with your heart and not with your pocketbook. Remember the true meaning of Christmas is not shared by how much you spend on gifts but by the heart with which you give.
What a beautiful and very true message. This is the most wonderful time of the year. I am extremely thankful to God for my wonderful husband and 8 children. I am a blessed woman. Thank you for writing that.
amen, sister. beautifully and sweetly written.
I so agree with what you have written! I see it as a sad example of how so many people have forgotten how to think of others. Hopefully with time their hearts will open and they will realize that it is people that are important in life and not things.
Merry Christmas and the best of New Years.
Thank you so much for The Gift. I had a similar phone call from my parents, and I wasn’t sure how to respond. Now I have a beautiful way to share our Lord’s love and sacrifice with them this Christmas. Thank you! Merry Christmas!
Very well said. I actually agree with you completely!
We are also not exchanging gifts this year. Not because we can’t afford to but simply because the gifts are not appreciated, they are not considered good enough. My husband has 2 sons from a previous marriage and for the past 2 years they have simply discarded the gifts given to them. Last year my husband found them in a box amongst some other items that were to be gotten rid of via our church rummage sale. The items were not clothes but were all unopened and obviously had not been used. He asked why they were getting rid of them, and was told that they just didn’t want them. Never opened, never used, never even took them along home with them. They spend no time shopping for at all. I usually end up with a bottle of bubble bath and my husband usually gets some kind of soap or bath product. So we decided no more, and yes, it makes us sad to think of the fun of Christmas or family and opening gifts but they don’t care. They could at least taken them home. We spent a good deal of time and money choosing a gift and it was treated as nothing. I think kids get too much these days and as a result if its not up to their standards, they just don’t want it. I certainly don’t need another candle or nick-Knack but what is the harm in being grateful that someone though enough to get you a gift. Accept it, and then if you don’t want or need it pass it along to someone who does. Don’t throw it away.
Darlene, do you think they would appreciate a home-baked gift or meal? I sure wouldn’t spend $$$ on a gift for someone like that.
I so agree with you. Let them gather around your tree and your table and enjoy a harvest with them. Enjoy them. It’s actually more fun. The pressure to get or receive that perfect gift has been washed away. If people need through the year, give to them then. Christmas should be all year long, not just on one pressure filled day.
Lovely story! I am fortunate to have a family and my dear close friend who feel exactly the same way!
What a heart-warming story. I am a recent widow, losing my husband this past September in a fatal car accident. We never had a lot, but each year, Bill would always make sure everyone had something under the tree. And this year, my children and I have decided to keep that memory alive by choosing a name from our local ‘Giving Tree’. By helping someone else, I am hoping to make their Holiday a bit brighter. We choose the card from the tree, shop for gifts and always try to wrap an extra gift or two for the Mom and Dad of that family. Sometimes it’s only a candle. Or something else. But, we want them to know that others are thinking of them. We are all in the same financial straights this year, but giving a bit of yourself to another is the best gift I can think of to do this year in memory of Bill. It will be bittersweet come Christmas morning at the Doll House, but am thankful that we will be together and also have been blessed to reach out to another. A very Blessed Christmas to one and all. God Be With you and yours this Holiday.
Cindy I am so sorry for you loss. The first Christmas is always the hardest after a loss like this. I love how your family choose to honor your husband. It brought tears to my eyes. Wishing you and your family a Blesed Christmas.
I am also sorry for your loss as well! But I do admire your spirit! How wonderful that you are helping others and truly have the Spirit of Giving! May God Bless you and your family!
It was great that you wrote this since this year my husband and I are in disagreement on whether we should continue buying gifts for his family. They are unappreciative of all gifts we give. And this year we cut back on our children’s Christmas gifts so we could buy for them. Then last week his sister said she was not going to be buying gifts because she was getting married and needed to save her money (they have not even set a date.) And his brother decided he did not want to exchange gifts since money was tight, but his wife just went back to work full time. I am a stay at home mom to two special needs children that require many therapy appointments. I feel like we should stop wasting money buying them gifts. But my husband feels that is not the spirit of Christmas. We have a year to settle this, but maybe this story will help us decide.
Here’s my .02 if it matters. :-)
We buy gifts for people who take the time and enjoy the gifts we give and who want to take the time to give us something thoughtful also. If the family is just buying something to “buying something” then don’t buy anything at all. What’s the point?
For Sarah and others who read this story I want everyone to be sure to understand each of you are different and have different circumstances and different type of people you are dealing with. It is frustrating to buy for people who to be honest could care less so there may be times when you do have to stop the gift giving for different reasons.
I just get so frustrated at times for someone who is making almost 10 times the amount of money as I am say they can’t buy gifts because they are so financially strapped – they have no major medical problems, natural disasters happening to them etc. but they can’t make ends meet they are just over spending and at times don’t even see what they are doing.
Sorry will get off of my soap box. Let’s just say I really understand the situations many of you find yourselves in.
Kinda sounds like us. We used to only buy for mom and dad and brother. $10 or $20 a person…if we had a little job. My hubby’s family bought for all the aunts the uncles the cousins and people they just met the month prior. Hubby has scaled down quite a bit… but sometimes I wish it were more. His family always expects top notch from us and hand me down or knitted thinga ma bob from them. No balance….
This is so beautiful and I hope a lot of people will pay attention. I am the last member of my family on both sides and I wish I had people to buy for this year. I do buy myself one or two things I’ve wanted all year but didn’t want to spend the money on, and then I pick from the Angel Trees all around town and buy something for a child or an elderly or disabled person. It tickles me with joy that the person will never know who gave him or her that gift, but got EXACTLY what s/he wanted. Some of them have such small wishes it would make you cry, known they had no other way of obtaining a book or a warm pair of slippers.
The comments and thoughts were very timely in my life. One of my adult children wanted an expensive gift for Christmas, and the other gave us a list of low priced gifts for herself. I’ve decided to not buy the expensive gift, but to buy both of them herb growing kits for their kitchen instead. This is something inexpensive, but useful to both children. Your story helped me to decide! Thank you!
Sadly the state of affairs at office parties and other exchanges is not good. I quit participating when pornographic ice cube trays, bar sets, even soaps shaped like women’s breast and male appendages, the reason for the season became non-existent signaled it was time for me to brush the dust from my feet and walk away. Then there are the competitive gift exchanges where the next person with a ‘turn’ to pick a gift can take it back from the person who has it or from the ‘pile’ in the centre of the room / table.
Home made, items seen throughout the year and family time together, church and home to visits and then turkey and all the trimmings.
I agree with the sentiments expressed in your lovely story. We don’t do a lot of gift exchanging outside of the immediate family, though, because most people I know don’t “need” anything and it lessens the stress to just agree not to exchange. In this type of situation, I think a nice way to remember someone is with a pretty card (homemade or otherwise) with a note expressing your feelings for them. This can be more meaningful than a gift chosen just to have something to give. I get a lot of enjoyment out of selecting gifts for a child from our local giving tree. It is always fun to shop for someone who actually needs things.
My family and I drew names because were a big family. There is 25 adults and 15 children.
First of all people need to not be ashamed of being “frugal”. Frugal does NOT mean cheap…it more properly means being a good steward of what we have (what the Lord has provided for us). That being said, I have long ago gotten rid of “presents for everyone” pressure/guilt. Perhaps just a lovely note (hand written-not e-mail) to someone who added significance to your life this year; surprise someone less fortunate with a box of food and goodies normally not purchased; a donation to an organization or church for someone who does have everything. Some of the best teaching moments which have been requested over and over again from my children are when we do “sneeky for Jesus” as we call it and come up with a special ministry opportunity of service to others. It doesn’t take huge amounts of money or time but we know that many of the things we do and have done are actually remembered and truly appreciated. So, be frugal…but think outside of the “big box” mentality. Thank you, texasmom247
Thanks for the great story. As a financial coach, I see exactly what you have reported in your story. We all make choices regarding how we spend our money. But, please do not buy for someone by going into debt using credit cards or payday lending. I am currently seeing clients who are still paying for Christmas 2009. The above (credit cards and payday lending) have taken the creativity out of our lives. Be creative and thoughtful!
By the way,I made the candy wreath from your website for my husbands office and his staff loved it. It took awhile to make it but my husband and I just visited while we tied the strings on the hanger….good marital communication time and a way to forget about our stressful jobs.
Personally, I love your fictional story. There was a time when I had a lot more money to spend on everything, not just gifts, than I do now, and I was miserable. Now, I’m a grandmother of many, not somuch money but a lot of love and I’m filled with peace and joy. God blessed me with many talents in crafting, crocheting and sewing. As a result, and years of collecting stashes of supplies, I am able to give gifts made from my hands, with my heart heavily involved. No, I can’t afford much that is purchased form the $tore, but my hands are heart give as much as my time will allow. Thank you and God bless you and yours abundantly.
I was hoping you would post The Gift again this year. I remembered reading it last year and it brought tears to my eyes. I was thinking about it last week and wanting to read it. Very touching. Thanks!
Thank you so much. I was really struggling with the simple gifts I was giving compared to how much others were spending. That was an awesome story that reminded me that it is my heart that I am giving in my gift more than anything else.
We too have a limited budget. For the past 10 years or longer we have been giving consumable gifts for the holidays. I usually make 1 or 2 bagged/jarred mixes, usually a sweet, the other a savory, along with homemade cookies and candies. These are shared with family members as well as very close friends. Aquaintances and service providers get homemade cookies and candies. The children still get a store bought gift as well as a homemade gift. I also try to include a handmade item, something like a crocheted dishcloth, a sewed potholder etc. for the family and close friends gift bags. I also have my son make an ornament for his aunts and uncles, as well as his adult sisters and brothers.
With the over indulgence of the season, I have found that people appreciate homemade consumable gifts that can be made at a later time. Something like a soup or bread mix or even brownie or cookie mixes. The nice thing about mixes is that you can tailor a gift to the recipient’s dietary needs~~~diabetics get sugar free, heart ailments get low sodium etc.
We have tried hard to control the consumerism that is involved with the holidays over the past decade or so. We try to give gifts that are needed by the recipient, not just any old thing just to have a gift to present to someone. We have given homemade gift certificates for services/food items to elderly family and friends, just so that they aren’t getting something else that they do not want nor need.
I’m glad to read this again this year. I oversplurged on a gift for my son this Christmas, and I’ve been feeling bad about it. But it makes me so happy to buy the perfect thing that people want for Christmas.
Excellent Jill! Reminds me of the book “The Gift of the Magi” written by O Henry, about a couple who bought each other gifts from sacrificial love.
N in NC
I do see your point of this story but I’ve stopped spending the time and money on gifts unless it is something practical that is wanted or will be used (like a favorite bag of coffee or $5 gift card for lunch or a treat at a favorite restaurant). It is not about money but about waste or unwanted/unneeded stuff (clutter). I am so tired of picking up, going through and cleaning around stuff in my home. My attitude changed over 10 years ago. #1: When my grandmother died we had to go through 40 years of drawers and drawers of Christmas and birthday gifts that me and my brother had given her – the stuff was still in the boxes unopened – it was dishearting. In fairness to her, she told us both for years not to get her anything. #2: My MIL goes to the Goodwill and purchases our gifts every year. I also shop at GW so I’m not turning my nose up at where she shops but she is buying us things that go right into our GW basket as soon as we get home – it is a waste of her money and time. We do not want the clutter knickknack dust collecting stuff in the house (she gave me fabric scraps one year – I don’t sew or do crafts. She gave the boys broken VHS tapes). We know she doesn’t want to spend the money and that is fine – no problem but please stop wasting money. Just give the boys $5 (or a $5 gift card) and tell them to use it at the movies or their favorite fast food place. She does not need to spend money on me or my husband to tell us that she cares for us – a plate of our favorite cookies would be wonderful. Again, I know your story really isn’t about money but about excuses, selfishness and bad money management. But what is the point of just buying stuff to be buying stuff (that nobody wants)?
Wow!! Great story and sadly sooo true!… Our family has cut waaay back on the giving. We’re tight, but that’s not even the reason. Our family has always given to Aunts, Uncles, Cousins etc… My major beef is no one says “Thank You” anymore. I have to call to see if they got the gift, and the response is usually: “Oh yeah, he/she got it.”…. What happened to gratitude?? I once had quite the heated exchange with my sister as to why her daughters can’t (won’t) say “Thank You”… Her response was that they were busy being kids and didn’t have to!!(WHAT?!?) Our home rules are: You don’t play with, wear it, or spend it until you say “Thank You”… I found out from several older relatives, that MY daughter was the ONLY one in the whole family of kids to say “Thanks”. That is the sad state of this family. We stopped giving gifts to ungrateful people/children, no matter what title they hold. There also seems to be a sense of entitlement. Our Christmas is much quieter, and much richer in meaning. We’re not giving just because everyone else is, and since no one cares about our gifts anyway…. why bother ??
Another issue we’re dealing with is the “cranky” old folks. All our lives we were taught to be grateful and have manners, yet the same people who taught us, have now lost all sense of graciousness. What’s wrong with thanking someone for a gift nicely, instead of “Why did you bother”, “What am I supposed to do with it”, “I didn’t want this”, “What a waste of money”, “The cookies were stale”, etc… When did the social ‘brakes’ come off the senior’s ‘car’??
As a daughter who dealt with a mother who suffered with acute dementia several years before the end of her life (before it was even diagnosed), I think it’s important to pass on that some older people lose that “filter” they used to have in younger years. Things don’t come out right sometimes, and they get irritated because of it, making them even more cranky. Or some things will come out opposite of what they intended to say. However, I do agree that with the advent of social media everybody seems to think there is no need for more formal customs to still exist such as writing thank you notes, personal phone calls, or even wedding invitations. Young people will just do a general thank you on Facebook (since they’re on it anyway) and leave it at that, forgetting that not everyone is on Facebook nor cares to be. Thank you, Jill, for such a meaningful story. I understood your point completely and it touched my heart greatly. Exactly the attitude we should as we celebrate “the Greatest Gift” of all.
I really appreciated this newsletter. I usually sew gifts for Christmas but with no fabric stores and little time I was going to buy little gifts. Then I had a doctors bill of $161.00. I felt like calling and saying I just can’t do it this year and then I remembered your gift basket ideas and decided to make things like spiced tea and hot coco mix, cookies etc. and maybe an embroidered hand towel. This really encouraged me to not make that call.
YES-PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME FOR SENDING HIS SON FOR US!!!
Thank you, Tawra, for that beautiful story. We have adopted a “homemade Christmas” at our house in the last few years, due to living on a reduced income since retirement. The gifts we save for and make for our family seem to be the most treasured gifts they receive. Love is the greatest gift of all and we look forward to sharing the holidays with our loved ones, no matter how much money they can or cannot spend. God’s gift to us, in flesh and blood, is proof that his love is the very best gift we can ever have — passing on that love is our legacy to our family.
Instead of buying lots of gifts for under the tree and getting into debt, you can make gifts
and/or give coupons to redeem for services that you can provide like snow shoveling, or making dinner, etc. Think of what you might like to offer and go with it! You might start some new traditions!
I could not have said this better myself. Some of my extended family have voiced the same excuse. I know some really can not afford to buy gifts, but what about something from the heart? I would cherish a letter written from the heart about what I mean to my family. What would this cost, maybe a little thought and time? Christmas should not be about the commericalism, but about family and friends. Thank you for reminding me of this!
I enjoyed reading “the gift” again this year. Thanks for posting it. I really wish people would remember what christmas means, I can’t understand why people think they have to spend spend spend! I enjoy the simple things at Christmas time like family get togethers. This year we are spending christmas day and dinner with an elderly couple who do not have any family and I am taking them a box of food so that they will not have to worry about food in case the weather turns bad and they can’t get out. They are on a limited income and have to watch every penney and to me that means more to me than a floor full of gifts knowing I helped someone. God bless you all!
Thank you so much I’d forgotten about reading this last year. This year I find myself on the receiving end of the gift baskets from our church. My husband of 24 years left me 6 weeks ago. When he left he took every penny we had, ran up a $300 phone bill, had not paid our insurance, house payment, or any of the utility’s. I cried for the first 2 weeks he was gone. Then a good Christian lady reminded me of the gifts that God has given us. I sat myself down read my Bible and realized that for the better part of my married life that my husband had not been a good man, husband or father. My faith was restored. I am no longer fearful of how I will keep my home. I picked myself up and did what I could to help those worse off than I. Someone who knew I crocheted had gave me a huge garbage bag full of new yarn, so I have been making scarves and hats out of all that yarn. It gives me peace, I’m able to give to others, and I don’t feel so bad about myself and having to except help from others. I have been given a gift that lets me give back and there is no better gift for me than being able to give from my heart to others.
This was so wonderful! This year with very little to spend I am trying to get creative and focus on family, and get them involved doing something fun together on Christmas. I am going to have a taffy pull! I will make a few different kinds to test. This old fashioned candy making art is seldom done anymore in homes. I predict lots of laughter and silly good times. I hope this will be a “memory making” Christmas for us all-from age two to 82!!
God bless Jill and Tawra!
Thank you for this lovely article – it just made me realise – what I already knew – that we are all under tremendous pressure at Christmas time and we have long since forgotton WHY we have Christmas. Even if you are not a religious family aurely Christmas can be a time of just “getting together” with loved ones. In all our different way we work hard – just getting along with life is sometimes not easy and Christmas should be a time when we have some valuable time with family. Sadly with so many broken homes, two tier families this is not possible. We are bombarded with the image of Christmas the advertising people would like us to believe is true – big happy family sitting around a laden table – dad carving a giant turkey and everyone laughing and happy – sourrounded by piles of gifts. Sadly this is not always the case and this reinforces in some people just how “sad” they are not to be part of this happy picture. No wonder suicides are so high over this “happy” time. People who are on their own – often through no fault of their own – mums left with children – dads deprived of their families and seeing their children on Christmas morning – grandmas and grandpas having to visit unhappy children etc.etc.etc. Surely if we all took a great big step BACK and had a real hard look at what – after all… we are doing to ourselves – putting ourselves under pressure to provide the best food/presents/entertainment – instead of just all “getting along”. I am now a grandma to three lovely children – but two of my sons don’t speak any more and there is so much sadness in my heart. I always brought my sons up in a warm and happy family – and always did my very best to provide a loving and caring home and now to have this broken family just breaks my heart. My best present would be just to have everyone happy again – dealing with problems and sitting down to a nice Christmas lunch – sharing happy times. This is not to be. I am a very interested and grateful participant in Living on a Dime – from here in England – and so really enjoy reading and learning about what is going on with lovely warm kind people in America. (Just wish we had Thanksgiving and all your nice holidays to enjoy too!!) Sending warmest wishes to everyone providing – and being part of (like me!) in Living on a Dime – Happy Christmas and I hope however you celebrate it – it is truly warm and peaceful as possibly can be.
What a beautiful story,i am still crying!I lost my income in sept,my husband does work,but we still really struggle,but i just thank god he is able to work.My boys are now 19-18,so finding something for them is harder now,but they understand,so even thought they may not be getting ipods or mp3 players,they will get what they need.For all the other adults in our family,i am making cookies and cakes for gifts.I will be baking these myself,and wrapping them in pretty colored plastic wrap,
The Gift was an inspiring story. We just made out a check to a Granddaughter and was thinking it wasn’t “enough”. Now I feel much better about the amount. Thanks for sharing The Gift with me.
I am doing homemade gifts as well, I was given about 10 gallons of blueberries this past summer and I made a lot of jelly, that will be gifted as well as a homemade body scrub I found online that is very easy to make. I have been going to yard sales every Saturday all spring and summer long and have picked up a lot of stuff. We contribute $20 per week to a Christmas club at the bank (it’s an automatic withdrawal out of our checking account) so we can use that money when we Christmas shop–whether it’s throughout the year or on Black Friday. I think with a little forethought, just about anyone can do Christmas, whether homemade or yard sales or just a kind letter. (And we play the switch the gift game but it’s not at all competitive, it’s really fun and funny….they are only $10 gifts, so there’s no diamond tennis bracelets involved, lol).
God bless you for daring to discuss such a sensitive subject. I fully agree with you, and am so glad that you printed your thoughts about the subject. I have always enjoyed shopping for(or making) the perfect gift for each person. My mother, however, was guilty of buying just because she had to, and bought so many useless, even inappriate, gifts. I wish she could have been exposed to thoughts like yours; maybe she would have been able to find joy in her shopping. I do think many people need to change their thinking, just like you said. Thanks again for discussing this. I thoroughly enjoy your website, and have been trying to get my sister to log on; I even bought one of your books for her. I know your thoughts about different issues would be a help to her, if she would just take the time to log on and read some of your articles. thanks again for sharing your thoughts and insights, from a grateful reader!
Hello Jenny from England!
I am “thankful” to have lovely women like you share your thoughts and concerns. I will pray for healing in your family and I ask others to join in with me. The power of prayer is great. May you be blessed with a wonderful Christmas this year:)
Living on a Dime has been a wonderful source of support – and I am most especially grateful to barb for her most kind and welcome thoughts. Even though I am so far away from all you lovely ladies I do feel a sense of belonging and mutual support. May we all have a happy and peaceful time with our families. I am very busy now making handmade gifts for my friends and family – and like a lot of other contributors seek out suitable fabrics, haberdashery and other bits and pieces with which to make original items throughout the year. I think this is nice way to give a gift – every items is made specially with a person in mind and something useful too. I would much rather receive a small gift, send with a loving heart than to receive an anonymous items something “thought you must might like” that I wouldn’t really use – what a waste! I am really hoping for a peaceful time and happy heart for all of us.
Best wishes from England!
Jenny,I hope this will go through. Not sure what has been happening but the past couple of days I have not been able to get my reply to go through on about 1/2 of the comments. It’s a weird glitch which no one knows what is going on.Anyway I want just ditto everything Barb said and to let you know I have been thinking about you.
I found your comment interesting about the homemade items but what caught my attention was your use of the word haberdashery. What does it mean? I know that nappies are diapers, biscuits are cookies, puddings are deserts but I don’t know haberdashery. I thought it might mean a store that sells clothing or something. Not sure.
And if you don’t mind if you or someone else (our Canadian, Australian or New Zealand) readers would tell us about what is usually done on Boxing Day. Isn’t is the day after Christmas?
Boxing Day (December 26th) started off in England as the day the servants had their Christmas. Here in Canada, stores that are open on Boxing Day usually have huge sales on their Christmas inventory. Many people use it as an extra family day (that’s what we do). The banks and post offices are closed as well.
Isn’t haberdashery pertaining to the making of hats?
It is one of those words that has a couple of different meanings. In the 1600’s a haberdasher was a kind of traveling salesman. Then a haberdashery became a place that sold men’s clothing and it sometimes is used for places that make hats. In England I think it is also means a place that sells clothing too and does light sewing or mending (our English friends will have to correct me on that if I am wrong). Over the years the word has also been used to describe someone or the acts of someone who is silly, does foolish things or does things in a scattered brain manner.
I always thought the haberdashery department of a store was the place you brought men’s acessories, i.e. gloves,ties handkerchiefs socks etc. Looking on the web though it seems to mean the sewing department or shop. Now I am confused too but I left England over 30 years ago
I think it means all of the above but just depends on where you live and the period you live in.
So you are originally from England Veronica? How neat.
We haven’t exchanged gifts with my husbands family in years. We stopped when one Christmas, we went over (with our brand new baby) and it was practically a worship fest to his niece’s daughter. Everyone was giving her expsensive stuff and going on about her, and most ignored our brand new son. His family is like a bunch o strangers when they get together. Hubby was amazed the first time he got around all of my family, who laugh and joke, hug and show love. He didn’t know what to think. He is no closer to my family than any of his.
We only exchange gifts with my parent for the simple fact that everyone else lives far away. My brother, my dad’s family, my mom’s are all many states away, and there are alot of them.
But yes, I understand the sentiment. My brother at one time didn’t buy us a single gift, when we had gotten him and his family NICE stuff. He then proceeded to go on about a trip they had taken, and the ne tattoo’s they had gotten, etc.
The problem is it is all about prioroties. Am I going to put myself into hock or what-have-you to get what I want now and then blow off people later. “I” am more important, is often the thinking. Selfishness is rampant. And then there are people who go WAY overboard on some and shun others. I have a friend who spends more on one of her 2 kids than I spend on all 4 of mine combined. Sad thing is, these kids don’t appreciate any of it.
Thank for sharing.
Enjoyed your story – thank you.
Haberdashery is a term for ribbons, needles, elastic and sewing bits and bobs generally. I think in American English haberdasher does means men’s outfitters.
As for Boxing Day – it’s sometimes called St Stephen’s Day. It’s a public holiday in England, when most families try to get together and be festive. Another big meal – not usually turkey. That’s when I meet up with mine. Sadly, I think, a lot of stores open now and start their sales so not everyone does this. I like a bargain (like you and all your readers I think) but I would not miss this get together for any good deal. My family are not close by so it’s even more important to us.
It’s called Boxing Day, I believe, because it used to be part of Christmas tradition for households to give a box of things for the poor in their community. It’s still popular in our schools for the children to fill a decorated shoebox with things – often sent abroad. (Other groups also do this like our Womens Institute.) I think it is fair to mention that enthusiasts of hunting would traditionally meet on this day but fox hunting with dogs is illegal now here. They can still legally meet and exercise the hounds, follow a scent etc. Bit of a controversial subject with some here so hope I’ve expressed myself accurately to not cause offence to anyone. I wouldn’t want to distract anyone from the important message in your story.
With very best wishes to you, your family and your readers, Susan (Kent England)
Thanks Susan that does clear some things up. You sound like us here on Thanksgiving. It was always a special time for extended families to get together often even more so then Christmas and all the stores were always closed on Thanksgiving. A few years back some grocery stores started staying open and gradually more and more are open with “good deals” but like you I still don’t go shopping and spend it with family.
Jill can help me out I know, but the only two businesses that I know that are always closed on Sundays in our general area of the Midwest are Hobby Lobby and Chick Fillet-both owned and operated by Christians. These are both HUGELY popular places, and I know they lose a lot of business when they are not open on Sundays. They are also very generous with their donations year round to needy causes, and tithe 10%. Not all all surprisingly, God has blessed both of these companies with extremely prosperous businesses-which then allows them to give away even more!
I have heard so many times we have to hold all that we own loosely in our hands. It is only ours on loan from God. In my life I have seen this repeatedly play out-the more I give, the more I receive:)
Jill-any other businesses closed on Sundays you know about??
Not that I know of off hand. Many don’t open until about 1 (after church) but most are open.
I like to sew up my gifts for my children and their children. For the in-laws that have everything and need nothing, I make food gifts.
I prefer to let Christmas be about Jesus and HIS gift to us and we don’t do gifts on that day. My in-laws meet on Christmas Eve for the whole family gift exchange. We have done our family gift exchange on New Year’s day. I got that idea from a friend of mine that does their family gifts on January 6th, like the traditional day the wise men brought their gifts to Jesus. But we don’t have that day off, so we use New Year’s Day.
Every year I try to make Christmas about Jesus in a new way. One year, we did a spiritual gifts assessment to see what gifts the Holy Spirit had given to use to give back to Jesus and the church. When we lived closer to my in-laws, we would walk the neighborhood that my husband was raised in and visited with his friend’s parents and give them our Christmas Cards. It was always special to make this once a year visit. By we, I mean our whole family! A small parade of six or more.
I have bread in the oven. I better get the rest of dinner ready.
Thank you for posting this story again. I thought it look familiar! I totally agree! Thoughtful gifts are a greater blessing than expensive gifts.
I applaud you! Thank you for reminding others about Christmas. I didn’t leave Christ out of my Christmas.
AMEN! God bless you and everyone in this special “Living on a Dime” community!
Thanks for that wonderful story. We are really struggling this year due to job downsizing, loss of benefits, supporting daughter and her family and I know we can’t keep up with the other gifts my grandchildren will be getting from others. We’ve made a budget we feel comfortable with and we will stick with it. It requires you to be a bit more creative. For my coworkers I went to the $1 store and bought glass plates for $1. I purchased a glass painting kit with 50% off coupon at a craft store and I am going to paint a holiday design on it and then bake cookies and give that to them. The younger grandkids I’m able to find things for. Its the teenagers who want all the latest gadgets that are hard to buy for. But thanks so much for that article I’m going to print it and re-read it to keep myself in the right frame of mind. Bless you and have a Merry Christmas!
Grizzly Bear Mom
A few weeks day the Washington post published an artilce about people no longer looking for work, they were begging for it; and dreading the holidays.
Lets please remember the hunger, poor, sick, imprisoned, orphaned, widowed, and stranger as Jesus would have us on his birthday.
We have two businesses in our area that are closed on Sundays other than car dealerships. The first is a fast food place call Chicken-Coop and the other is a women’s fitness center called Curves. Both are christian businesses that are active in community affairs and give to the church or needy.
I have to say that you have really got me thinking and doing some soul searching. I was the one who made that phone call 11 yrs ago to my husbands family who always exchanged gifts letting them know since we just bought a house, we wouldn’t be able to afford gifts for everyone. Fortunately, our financial situation has improved since back then but we have never gotten back into the exchange. You have completely changed my mind set and although it’s already Dec. 23rd, I plan to fit in few extra last minute gifts for family who would least expect it. I can’t wait to see the joy on their faces! Thank you for a wonderful story.
What a beautiful story!!! This is definitely the way it should be. I am saving the story to remind my family and I what it is all about! Thank you very much and God Bless you and family.
Gift giving has become a means as a “status symbol” or the most expensive gift shows that the person might have money but definitely wants to be popular! For me I give gifts throughout the year. I buy clothing and all sorts of things for my family so for us Christmas is not a big gift giving season. We do have a big get together with family and friends and enjoy that!
I recently purchased my granddaughter some new Fall/Winter clothing and some new pajamas. I just bought my daughter some maternity clothing and my son some new boots and a jacket. I am going to buy my husband some new clothing as well. But we don’t really exchange gifts at Christmas. It is sad that gift giving has become so controversial. Of course we live in a world where consumerism has completely taken over. The new iphone literally sold out within hours of it’s introduction on the internet. Many people I know still want to live their life just like they did BEFORE the economy went down even though they have lost jobs and or have had a cut in pay! Many are not willing to change their lifestyles in order to be able to give gifts to others. It is sad!! I am happy to do what I can so that my family has what they need anytime during the year!
This story is wonderful!! Thanks for sharing!
Amen. Being a single Mom and 3 daughters, we had a wonderful time making gifts. We had one tv, one computer, no video games unless educational and now that they are grown they want yarn, fabric, beads, etc. so they can do the same with their children. Christ our Lord is the light on the Christmas tree. God bless you and yours
I read your blog and realize I am right there with you, even with grown children. Saving and reusing does not stop, it is important as a life lesson for all of us. Keep up the good work.
It has been a tradition in our family of 4 to give books for christmas gifts.
One year I filled a small suitcase with books put a bow on it and a tag that said Merry Christmas. The rest of the gifts just sat there until the books had been examined and partially read. The mails all read sci fi and the suitcase had about 100 of them. They were used but that was fine as they got more books that way.
Now my grandchildren love reading. But since we are not close I send them gift cards for chapters so they can pick books they like.
I just spent 150. on gift cards for 3 children and thought it was a perfect gift. A friend of mine was saying that I should get them all e readers. I said they enjoy books and she said they really want computerized things because that is what her grandchildren want.
Now ereaders that are good cost about $200 so that is a lot of money on one child. My eldest gs just got an ipod so we are getting him an itune gift card. plus the book one. I think teaching children about the teck things is great but isn’t the old fashioned just as good a teacher.
My youngest reader is 4 years old and not into computers yet so he loves to go into the store and hand over his card along with the books. He paid for them and is so proud to be seen as a big boy. My gd sometimes uses the card to pick a book or magazine up for her mom or younger brother when he was just looking at picture books. She used her card and was so happy to be able to give a gift.
I think parents and yes grandparents sometimes put their lack of technology into the gift saying it is a neccessity of life.
If we find that Mia really wants an ereader her birthday is in february and camerons is in sept. so lots of time for them to enjoy the outdated which they love so far before we go for the new version.
At least I hope so since that is what is going to happen here.
Being an avid reader myself I have not quite got into the e books yet. I am sure I will some day but for some weird reason part of my pleasure in reading comes from the feel and holding the book. Even when we got our first test copy of the new Dining on a Dime the first thing I said was “It feels so nice”. Now I must admit reading on a Nook or something would come in handy when I am reading and trying to eat at the same time.
Jill I still love my books. I love going into the used book store because they smell of books and papers.
But the ereader is great because we live where there is no bookstore and the library is not very good about ordering books in.
I can go online and pick up a $30. hardcover book for maybe $9. and they have on sony library lists of free books. Not always the greatest but for free what have we got to lose.
Don bought it for me because the pain in my hands is so bad at times turning pages is agony so I would sit and feel sorry for myself unable to do anything because my hands wouldn’t move.
With the e reader I simply run a finger across the screen to turn pages and it is so light I can always use it comfortably.
1 year ago it was $300. which I thought was outrageous but it has saved us about that much if not more because we can order books and not have to make a trip to TB to get books as we always spend more in the other stores.
But the cheaper ones are out now and they are great for reading while working or while waiting for someone. They slip into a pocket and you are set to go.
We have over 200 books on the computer ready to load on the ereader and the ones on the ereader can be deleted because they are always stored on the computer for rereading. which we do a lot.
but I will not give up my books either will Don. where we go so go our books. furniture can be left books never.
I have enjoyed your site, tips, ebooks and newsletter for a long time, yet have never commented. I agree that gifts should be given from the heart. My family has an additional view regarding gifts at Christmas and other occasions. We ALWAYS appreciate the intentions of the giver. However, even our children would rather just spend joyful TIME with their relatives and friends than receive a gift that we have no room or use for (ex: food gifts we are allergic to, cheap plastic toys that break right away, knick knacks that we don’t have space or use for.). I hope this doesn’t seem to Scrooge-like, but it really breaks our heart to see others spending money (sometimes a lot of money) on gifts that aren’t necessary. It pains us to have to get rid of a gift that broke or we don’t have room for. Gifts have their place, but only a small part of the true spirit of Christmas. Some of the best gifts are the intangible ones anyone, such as gifts of service and spending time making memories together.
May you all have a blessed Christmas, rich with special times with family and friends!
Thank you so much for the words that I needed to read.. I was so down this year, no Christmas spirit, no joy.. But after reading your story , I felt so much better, I have no children close to me, so Christmas is a very lonely time for me..but i am going to go out and buy a few little things for my kids, that I know they will be happy to have.. Thank you for renewing my spirit..
We have “home made Christmas” at our house, since we are retired now and our resources are limited. It’s a truly wonderful experience, and our family has so much fun trying to outdo each other, with gifts that are thoughtful and made with love. From an album made by my granddaughters who live 6 hours away, with pictures of the year’s activities that grandma and grandpa missed, to the special drawing my 6-year-old grandson drew, each gift is treasured! I make quilts, clothes, pajamas and stuffed animals. Grandpa drew pictures this year of the grandkids. Each gift is thoughtfully made and the love that goes into Christmas giving reflects God’s love for us. Thank you for reminding us that it’s about loving each other and not about the cost.
This is something to think about. All too often people forget the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas isn’t about tons of gifts, however, sadly for many, that is all it is about to them. I used to be the type of person who felt that because I lived so far away from my family that I had to “make up for it” at Christmas with gifts. Well, I have now been unemployed for 2 years and there are no gifts this year, as there simply and truly is no money – not even to pay my bills. My Christmas gift to my family this year is coming home to be with them, as I didn’t last year because I was embarrassed that I didn’t have gifts to give.
So no, Christmas isn’t all about giving of gifts, it is about being together to celebrate the true meaning of the Season.
I was very moved by the story. I have been in situatations that at times it has felt more out of obligation and the expense was getting out of control. One of the best things that could have ever happened to me was to go through a bankruptcy around te holidays. Yes, we had to swallow our pride and get help to make sure that our daughter had a good Christmas with lots of gifts. To make sure that my then husband had something to open I thought of 100 reasons I loved him and wrote them down, cut them into strips and put them into a jar – this way he knew how i felt every day. For friends and family that I want to give to – still to this day – I try to make something like a holiday sweet of some sort to give. It really isn’t about how much you spend – your time is way more valuable and people tend to appreciate those gifts more than something that you go buy in a store. I have had hard times since that particular Christmas, but when I explain that I can’t spend much, most people are even happy with a phone call, your time or maybe you can do some sort of favor for them in the future (or prior to the holidays). I personally HATE WITH A PASSION how commercial the hoidays have become – where is the spirit of love, giving something of yourself instead of things. If someone is still hell-bent on giving gifts, then start shopping earlier in the year – much like the story. If someone on your list loves beach stuff – unless you live in Hawaii or Miami, you won’t find much in December. If you get things throughout the year as you see them for people on your list, by the time the holidays roll around, you will be done shopping and you can sit back and reflect on your year, enjoy your loved ones, and not have to come up with outrageous amounts of money all at once or get hit with huge bills in January. Sure, you may not get some of the “insane deals” on Black Friday – but do you really like the crowds, the fighting, and overall greed that Black Friday seems to represent – NO, but you can sit back and enjoy famil, friends and the true meaning of the season. Christmas isn’t about “things” and I pray that you all can see that.
Jill ot Tawra-
What was the sweet verse you had last year to give with a pair of taper candles? I remember it was so beautiful!
Barb it was in this article Creative Christmas Gift for Under $1
just heard this the other day about spending in the states the Monday to Saturday for cyber buying and all the sales.
the people in the states spent 16 or 60 billion dollars. even at 16 that is a lot of buying but I am pretty sure they said 60.
Canada wasn’t near that high but still spending that much on stuff boggles the mind.
I am just glad we don’t have the mobs at stores here that we read so much about.
I for one could not take the crowds and for 2nd who needs stuff that badly that they mob people just to get it.
people all over the world are just strange.
wonder how many of them say to people we are not giving out gifts because we can’t afford them?
give what you can afford and give it from the heart and all will be well.
One of the Christmases I remember most was when our sons were about 5 and 8 yrs. old and they bought their dad a bunch of books at the library used book sale. The books were all about subjects he was very interested in. The kids were SO excited on Christmas Eve to see their father opening all those gifts.
I loved both the story and the sentiment behind it. I started making homemade jams & jellies for Christmas presents when my hubby & I first got married and were broke. When we started doing a little better I checked with family members to see if they wanted us to go back to buying “store bought” presents. I got a resounding NO! They all liked the homemade stuff better. I also do a lot of crafts (crochet, sweing etc…), So far, The handmade stuff has been more welcome than anything else. I think it’s mainly because they all know that a lot of thought and love go into each thing.
Hi, For Me Life is about Choices and the Freedom to make these Choices is Huge to Myself, so I think that this is what Christmas is all about for Me and I would hope I have brought up my Family to feel the same. As we are only on a very small annual income ourselves, I also buy thoughout the year (with the help of my daughters’ suggestions) I choose the gift I can plan for and afford, (even if it means lay-buying that gift and paying it off over a few weeks. The pleasure of giving that special gift far outwieghs, any sacrifices I may have had to make to afford any gift from the heart. My Dad gave Me the best gift in life, when He told me it is far more rewarding too give than to receive. This is so true, I Love Christmas, as it is a Time for Giving. Even if it is Time it self that is the best gift you can give for the lonely and sometimes forgotten people of the world today. Have a Happy & Safe Christmas Holiday Season. Love Denise
For me,Christmas is a time to sit back,and count all and I mean all the blessing’s I have recieved during the year. I keep a journal starting every Jan 1 of the new year and I write down everything that happens good or bad during the year and on Christmas I go back and read thru it and it reminds me of just how blessed I am. People tend to forget if it wasn’t for Jesus there would be no Christmas. We keep our Christmas small and are much less stressed.
I have been having the opposite problem. My grown son has everything and it has been driving me crazy, trying for months to figure out what to get/buy/make him for this Christmas. I finally ran across something he would like this morning, a coaster set made out of scrabble pieces with a cork background. I can make these and he will actually use and appreciate them. Every year his sisters and I make him a gift basket of homemade candies, cookies and various breads but you just cannot buy for this man. He has enough money that he buys himself everything he wants, but made by Mom, when it is the right thing, is the best bet every time.
Wow… this story really hit me. I actually KNOW people who do that!! (buy all their own expensive things and then say they can’t give gifts for ANY occassion!!)
I may not be the best gift giver, but I do make an effort to choose nice things that I think the recipient would like. And you are so right – it DOESN’T have to cost a lot! It IS the thought that counts!!
I just wanted to say that I enjoyed the story – and seriously girl… you need to write books!! You have a gift for writing!! :)
Merry Christmas to you and all of your family!!
This is a beautiful post, and Jill, like you, I love REAL books. Curling up on the couch in the evenings in my Jammies, is so much nicer than dealing with an ebook. DOESN’T COMPARE!
Our children are grown and own their own with others added to their lists. I overheard them talking about asking us not to exchange gifts so that they would have enough for the in-laws. After hearing that I declared that Christmas we were not giving “presents” but “presence”. It was great. Got to visit with new family. Bake cookies together. Watched a football game together. That has been my favorite Christmas. The gift of Presence.
For many years everyone in my sister, brother & my family have drawn names to exchange gifts. This year we decided not to do that. We get together on Christmas Eve and Christmas day for food and celebration. We are very blessed to have Christ in our life & to have each other. We are a crafty bunch & throughout the year have given to each other & said “Hahaha,this is your Christmas present.” I agree with others that there is no reason to HAVE to go out and buy or make something just because it is expected. The little ones will be taken care of by their mommy &/or daddy. I would rather be thought of throughout the year with a phone call, a card or something they came across that just spoke to them “Wow, wouldn’t Nana just love this!”
The gift of “PRESENCE” with no cells phones ringing and interrupting IS A GIFT THESE DAYS. It’s sad that people have to now include in wedding invitations that “no cells phones are invited” because it’s rude to ignore people in your very presence for “friends” in cyberspace. So if you’re going to give the gift of your presence lose the cell phone for awhile.
grizzly bear mom
Grandma, reading about your arthritis made me think that you might want to try the alkaline diet. It is primarily plant based, and includes omega 3s like flax seed and fish oil. You could also look Dr Joel Furhman up on the net. The Western diet meat, sugar, processed carbs, aggravates arthritis. Hope you feel better soon.
thanks gbm, have tried lots of the things that help and gave up lots of things that don’t.
In most of the diets there is something that doesn’t agree with my system.
Even tried taking omega 3 supplements and that was like poison to me.
Tried the gluten free and it did nothing to help or hinder so went back off it.
Tried flax seed oil capsules and was sick like I had what people say is flu symptoms. Don’t know because I had never had the flu but couldn’t continue with them.
My system is wired wrong. Things that help 99 out of 100 people I am the 100th that it either does no harm or it really makes the problem worse or adds new ones to it.
I have finally convinced drs. to give me a week prescription because if they give me more it sits and goes to waste.
I try things in small ways because for me it is better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.
I have gone almost completely fresh vegetables and fish for weeks at a time with no results that convince me to stay that way.
Most days I can get the important stuff done and what doesn’t get done is no longer important.
Lucky for me I have a family who cares more about me than the way I look and act.
Thanks for thinking about me with your suggestions. It does help a lot.
Thank you so much Jill. This means so much to me. My father told me several years ago he couldn’t afford to get me anything for my birthday while he and his wife continue to watch cable TV, go out to eat numerous times a week, shop for a hobby, etc. It is not that I want anything- but just to know I matter- enough to sacrifice or even think about. It can be very hurtful. Angela
This is so true. I am a firm believer in the statement that gifts should be given from the heart and not the pocketbook. Each year I make some little gift to give to all my dear friends and family. This year it was angels made out of noodles. It was the cutest little tree ornament. I made about 60 of them and it cost me about $20.00 and my time, but time that I thought of each and every person as I was making them. They were as touched with them as with $20.00 gifts. They knew that they meant alot to me because of taking the time to remember them. I don’t think that there are to many people that can’t do alittle something. This year as Thanksgiving I made cut out cookies and gave each person in our church one with alittle card I printed saying You may have brought a meal, you may have help cut wood for us, you may have sent a card or you may have prayed for us, but Thank you for remembering us. Many people were touched my this very small gesture.
I agree with everything you wrote. I am trying to do more home-made gifts. I think 6 cookies in a bag with a pretty bow is an awesome gift, and most likly won’t end up in the trash.
For one gift exchange, we all agreed to just bring a “goodie” bag instead of exchanging names. And those that can’t make it to the get-together no big deal. Those that come, draw numbers for bags. The bags can include home made treats or whatever, even a white elephant gift.
Also home-made coupons for services, such as baby-sitting, cleaning, etc. are well-received.
I have been a subscriber to your website for a long time, but have never commented; however, today’s column I cannot stop myself from saying, “Thank You.” We have to give, we are compelled to give. Just what if, God had thought to himself, “I cannot afford to give, the cost is too high to give my Son, my Only Son, to save the lost world.”
We can always give gifts and if they are not received in the same spirit they are given, so what? You have given of yourself for someone else and that makes all the difference in the world.
I always appreciate when you publish this story. I have family like this and it cause some resentment. In fact, just this past month my sister was complaining about how they were going to afford Christmas, yet she had just bought a brand new storage building for her Christmas decorations (10 x 20 feet!) and her 16 yo son a motorcycle. Every year we go through this. Even in our lean years we never said a word. I have used my work bonus many times to purchase their gifts. So this year, the first time she started in, I said “fine, we won’t draw names anymore, we will have Christmas dinner and “I” won’t have the stress of listening to everyone complain about money.” I wish they would read this. But don’t think they would even get the meaning. Sad. So instead I bought 9 brand new coats for some teens in a mental type hospital facility. They are kind of forgotten, my boss’ daughter is a new employee there and had told me about them. My Son and I went shopping for them. And it was great!
Sorry, but I am one of those people you refer to. Yes, I will go to McDonald’s (or where ever I choose) and buy a happy meal or whatever because I work hard to get it. No, I will not buckle to the pressure of buying a gift. I have found more meaning in Christmas by not caving into the commercialism of it all. We get together with family and friends and have food and oh my all the conversations going on all at one time. Such fun. Gift giving….phooey…give of yourself, your time, not your $. That, my friends, is the hardest gift of all to share these day. I offer you this, just because you see gift giving most important in your life, doesn’t mean that others who do not share/feel your views have a miserable Christmas. In fact, the very opposite. I don’t have to pretend to like a gift if I don’t, nor do they. I don’t need much to get by in life, what I do need, I get myself. I don’t need others to get it for me. What I do need, is people..friends and family with me and to know that they are not “sacrificing” / Suffering and/or have the unnecessary pressure of gifting. Nor do I want a bunch of people around at Christmas because they come expecting to get “material things” from me. Just come and enjoy. Family, Friends, Food and a good time. If you are at my table at Christmastime or thereabouts, I know you are genuinely there for me, not for what I can give you. Sorry, I do not mean to offend anyone. Merry Christmas in how ever you do decide to celebrate.
You sort of missed the point of the story which is selfishly spending so much on yourself that you don’t want to bother to take some of that money to give to others. We tend to get so hung up on the commercialism of Christmas that we can swing way to far in the other direction. A happy medium is what we should aim for otherwise our lives will get out of balance. I am so glad God didn’t have the idea that He thought gift giving is too much commercialized and decided not to bless us and give us gifts. As far as not wanting someone to sacrifice for you I am so glad again that God was willing to sacrifice His son for us and that Christ was willing to be a sacrifice. We need more people to be Christ like in their sacrificing and other areas.
The whole point is missed – it isn’t a matter of whether or not you give gifts or get together with families or any of these but your attitude towards Christmas and others. Is there selfishness involved, an attitude of I will do what I want and I don’t care what anyone thinks, pride (boastfulness) and so many other things we need to be careful of and watch for.
Because of lack of a better word I used the word sacrifice but when you care and do things for those you love it really isn’t a sacrifice when done with the right attitude – it is a pleasure and it usually gives you more pleasure then it does them. That is why I feel sad for those who don’t give gifts to others for what ever reason they use, because they are depriving themselves sometimes of the great joy of giving.
Thank you for the beautifully written and timely story. It really touched my heart. I’m afraid I’m one of those horrid people who LIKE to give and receive store-bought gifts. When I was growing up we were quite poor and our gifts were (of necessity) homemade. When I turned 13 I received my first store-bought gift: a pink blouse and quilted skirt from Sears Roebuck. I can still “see” the gold thread quilting that skirt. It was a precious and magical gift to me. As I grew up I became quite proficient at sewing, cooking, and numerous kinds of crafting. I do make some homemade gifts to give to family and friends and they have always been received with apparent pleasure, but (perhaps because of my own childhood) in my mind those gifts never equal something I can buy. I realize that this sentiment is probably heresy on this site. But surely I am not the only one who struggles with the feeling that homemade is “inferior” somehow. I have been blessed beyond what I deserve because even though I am now retired with a family of my own, I can afford to purchase a gift as well as (or like this year, instead of) make one.
As much as I love the story, the comments about the story also deeply touch my heart. I read this site and constantly use my Dining on a Dime cookbook because I believe frugality is an important virtue regardless of how much money one has. But the story and the comments are a reminder to me not just of frugality, but also of the importance of giving with a thoughtful and loving spirit and receiving whatever is given with a thankful and kind heart. I wish holiday blessings for you and your families, Jill and Tawra, and for the many who have commented here, may you find peace and joy this holiday.
Linda I think your post was so good. I have been wanting to write a post on this subject myself but wasn’t quite sure how to write it and not to sound ungrateful or how to make people understand.You did a super job of explaining. I too prefer getting a store bought present over homemade. I couldn’t figure out how to explain it to people without sounding as if I didn’t like or appreciate homemade gifts because I do and I especially do because I know how much work goes into making most things but the reality is that I have not had as many store bought or new things as many people have had. I had never even had a store bought dress until my 16th birthday. I remember how excited I was. I didn’t even know what I was suppose to do because I had never been in a dressing room before to try something on.
I then have had to work so hard making homemade things sometimes. Because of lack of money my homemade things were especially hard to make because unlike others who go and buy what ever supplies and things they need to make something I tried to make do with what I had on hand. If I was knitting something I would have to unravel an old sweater and use the yarn from it. If I was making a dress for my daughter I couldn’t just go buy trim and fabric I would have to cut something old of mine apart and use the fabric and trim from it to so the dress.
I would love to have new furniture because I get tired of trying to make slip covers, painting thing or making my own pillows. To get something store bought and new for me is such a treat – I just love it. To me treats are things you don’t get very often. I have almost nothing but homemade so homemade things aren’t as much of a treat. I remember when my kids were young I never bought cookies because back then they were much more expensive then they are now so they always got homemade cookies. One day they asked me “Mom couldn’t we have some boughten cookies some time?” Homemade cookies weren’t as special to them where most of their friends loved the homemade cookies.
I’m afraid that many will read this and like you said misunderstand what we are trying to say but it makes me feel so good to know there is someone else out there who understands what I am trying to say.
Wonderful thought and replies. Everyone feels so close on this site. I always have a monetary limit for the close family on my list and this year added “Grandmas’ thrift store Christmas basket” Nothing cost over 75 cents and includes things like coasters, christmas mugs and for my horse crazy eldest daughter who is 43 a Halmark Christmas ornament of a black rocking horse. It is new in it;s package but from 1976 and it cost 50 cents Everything is wraped in plain white paper with cut outs glued on and a simple ribbon. The two little grandsons have tiny tins filled with M&Ms. The idea is for everyone to see how poor people can still have Christmas. Everyone will still get their usual present too. They all know grandma is excentic but I am looking forward to the reaction.
I am a senior on a fixed (too fixed) income, and have problems every year with Christmas for my Daughter in Law’s family. This year I made tomato preserves and put them in half pint jars. I need an idea of something else to give with the preserves for a nice present. I was thinking a bacon cheese bread. What do you think? I am embarrassed to give home made presents, but I have no alternative, at least they will get a present.
Jackie don’t be embarrassed about giving homemade most people really enjoy getting especially something different like tomato preserves. I think the bread would be a great idea. That was the first thing that popped into my mind was something like bread, rolls or what you think the preserves would taste good on.
Jill you took the words out of my mouth. I also thought of something like bread. I would also say to Jackie anything made with love is nothing to be embarassed about and if the people you are giving those things to make you feel that way substitute a lump of coal.
If they are like me I love to get anything that I didn’t have to cook myself and can just sit back and enjoy.
I so enjoyed your article and it’s so true. God did give His son and that Son Jesus was willing to sacrifice His life for me and all of us that made Him our Savior. I so enjoy giving gifts that fit the person and there needs. I also enjoy baking gifts for friends. With life so busy people really enjoy home baked good. Thanks for your article.
for years i have recieved,this year i have the privileage to give…
Thought provoking story. I have read many of the comments & understand why many feel they should stop giving to those who may not appreciate it. However, there may be another way to look @ it. I am a Christian. Christ died for all, although many do not accept His gift either. I give gifts because it is my way to express my love or appreciation for someone. I also have some family members I would prefer off my giving list if it was based on what I get back from them. I may never know how each small gift may have changed someone’s life, if only by knowing they were thought of. I have about 20 family members & almost as many other peolple to give gifts to every year. I only spent $150 for all gifts this yr. I find things on clearance throughout the yr & use them as gifts (think 50cent tea light Christmas trees after last yrs season) Just remember the Reason for the Season, & focus on how good you feel to give a little something no matter if homemade or inexpensive. Merry Christmas everyone! Be blessed!
I agree that “I can’t afford it” means it’s just not high enough on someone’s priorities. I hate the term “exchange gifts”. I “give” gifts. Just because I give you one this year doesn’t mean you owe me one back or even that I will give you one next year. It just means that I needed to show you how important you are to me right now. I think the unexpected gifts are both the most fun to give and to receive.
With my parents ONLY, we exchange the gift to the charity of their choice. We decided that our time together was gift enough, AND that we wanted to honor the people/cause dearest to each other’s heart. It is not a matter of not caring to give or select a gift. We still choose something small and thoughtful. But we prefer to spend the bulk of what we would on each other in giving to a charity instead. We give liberally, joyfully, and thankfully. We do not measure it based on how much is left over after we’ve spent everything else, but is actually our favorite thing to do at Christmas. We then receive updates from their charity all year long, and love feeling involved in a ministry or outreach beyond our own area or initial interest. I understand your point, Jill, to put your love for others before your own. That’s what Christmas means to us – the great example of our Father’s love for us.
One suggestion not mentioned, is to make a donation to a charity in someone’s name, or make it as a group. This has proven to be a real heart-warmer rather than trying to buy a “Secret Santa” gift for someone who you really don’t know very well (or who may really not need anything). This too is a way of reaching out to others.
This year money has been tight. I bought clothes for my kids at Goodwill. I am not ashamed of this. My kids will have one toy each for Christmas. And the gifts that we will exchange with extended family will be something baked. We like to exchange gifts but it makes it difficult to buy for people when they already have everything.
Wow…what a wonderful story. I feel like the lady in the story. We have a 3 year old daughter and my husbands family is described as the “others” in your story. By far they have money, they are very very broke. Poor choices they have made this year is really affecting their lives now. Sadly they can spend money they dont have on cigarettes and useless things. BUT they can’t send their only grandchild a cheap card with a cheap stamp $2.00 all included. It breaks my heart to see this family do this. But the greatest message I got from this was…. God didnt give up on me….and just because they dont want too, give to them anyway. Even if it’s just a prayer. THANKS for turning the tables on my heart.
When I was a young child, my toys were always like new. I played with them but never damaged them. My family were blue collar workers and although we were not poor we didn’t have extra money. Each year before Christmas, I would be asked by my parents to go through my toys and give up 4 items that were in excellent shape (this was in the 50’s before angel trees) and that I wanted to give away. My parents would then make a gift basket of baked cookies and cakes,food and my toys and give them to a family that they knew that could not afford a Christmas that year. As my children grew, we did the same thing. My 2 daughters would pick a Christmas angel from a tree and go shopping with me for new clothes and toys for each angel pick. We would bake gifts for friends and deliver them. To this day, we are a family that would rather give then get.
Love doesn’t have to cost a great deal,a 1 year old would rather play with a box than the expensive toy. Parents would rather see their child play with something under a tree than get a gift themselves. You can make it, bake it and give it away at little expense. Love should always be given away and not hoarded. God loves us and gave us His only Son. We need to follow by example and open our hearts and creativity to the love of the Christmas promise.
I love that story. I feel the same way. Thanks for touching hearts with your words.
I love the story and would love to share it on Facebook, with your permission and credit. It reminds me so much of my best friend. She became a widow (for the first time) in 1996. She always made nice gifts or purchased items through the year for everyone who was special to her. The year her 1st husband died, her family told her about a month before they celebrated Christmas that they “weren’t going to exchange gifts that year.” Of course, she had most of her already purchased or made. So, she sat at the tree, with no children as she was unable to have any, while everyone except her opened many gifts (to their kids, to the grandparents, etc.). Only her parents had a gift for her. She still gave her gifts. The next year, one of her brothers and sisters-in-law gave her a box with 3 blank VHS tapes. They made oodles of money. They also told her of a Japanese foreign exchange student they had that semester who loved chocolates, and how they sent her 10 lbs. of chocolates, and had to pay $60 for shipping alone. I don’t have to tell you how hurt she was that she didn’t rate enough in their family to only get $3 gift, while they lavished an expensive gift on someone they only knew for 4 months. Her other brother died a few years later and his wife told my friend that she understood now how my friend felt about gift exchanges at Christmas. My friend is the kindest person I know and she gave gifts because she loved those people and it made her feel good to give something special. You hit the nail on the head about people having more than enough money to give to themselves, but not eough to shre with others. I have a similar situation in my husband’s family. One or two of his brothers are very tight and gift chinzy gifts, while they spend thousands on a vacation or two each year. One year recently, they went to Disney World in the summer and took a Disney Cruise just before Christmas. At Christmas, while we gave nice giftsto each of their family members, we received two snack-sized bags of tiny cookies. They told us they didn’t have any money after going on their cruise. While I appreciated the homemade gift, it would have been nice to get more than 8 cookies for our family. Am I being selfish? :)
I have never cared about the size or cost of anything given to me. It is what is in the heart of the person. Try not to judge even the stingiest person. Remember, you reap what you sew. Love all and try not to judge any. You are not being selfish you are being human.
Pamela, I agree! You are right on!
I really need to add to my story above. Two years ago, the year after we received 8 cookies for Christmas, my husband had been laid off for almost a year and I had my income reduced by two-thirds. Money was T.I.G.H.T.! We decided we’d give all the nieces and nephews $5 and a small gift. My family took it very well, however, my husband’s selfish family didn’t. When we gave the boys their $5, we attached it to a giant chocolate bar that was their favorite. The 12-year-old opened it and said very loudly, “Five dollars!” I thought he was excited to get the money, but quickly reaized he was angry because that’s all he got from us, when his parents jumped all over him about his response. We had previously explained that we didn’t really have much money for gifts, so things were slim that year. I think my brother-in-law was just as shocked to receive the wallet photo of our son’s school picture in a cheap acrylic frame(a gift they had given to us for several years of their kids without a frame). It was funny how when the tables were turned, things took on a different light to them. :) With them working two full time (well paying) jobs, we still received a $1 stocking with 4 pieces of fruit and two wallet photos in no frames. Some things just never change. :)
You accept people for who they are not what you want them to be. Love them,that doesn’t mean you must like their behavior.
Thanks, Ginny. Yes, I do still love them, and I accept that they just aren’t giving people. I keep telling myself that being “givers” is not their gift from God. I’m just glad it’s mine. I more enjoy seeing others open my gifts than receiving any, although it’s nice to receive a few, too. :) That’s why I keep doing it year after year…to see others enjoy what we have thoughtfully given them. One of his brothers (who is generous) commented at one Christmas that I really took the time to get everyone what they really liked. That made me feel good that someone noticed.
Good morning Jill —
I have two things — this is for Grandma, as I think she is the main knitter in the main group of posters here. Yesterday I found a really nice scarf pattern, but can’t get the link to work. If you search for “jawbreaker Scarf Pattern” it will come up. I think this is a quick gift, but I’m going to start one for next year. I love the pattern, and I think any yarn will work well. —
Also, I had to come up with an unexpected gift for a cousin and on the way to work this morning, I came up with a small gift basket idea.
I make a really tasty shrimp dip at holidays, so my basket will be a can of the baby shrimp, good seasons Italian seasoning, cream cheese and sour cream, and a dash of hot red pepper flakes,a box of crackers and the recipe/instructions on a card.
the recipe: one can of tiny shrimp, (drained, rinsed, and then crushed with a fork), mix a small bar of cream cheese, sour cream to your desired consistency, st least 1/2 envelope of the salad dressing mix (to your taste), and then the red pepper to your taste. It’s great on crackers. (you can use low fat cream cheese and sour cream if you are watching your fats – I do generally, but not at Christmas!)
Oh yum Donna I love shrimp so I may have to try this. Great idea for a gift basket too. A person could do that with any one of their favorite recipes like that. Thanks and thanks too for the scarf pattern. For you knitters too. I made each one of my grand kids a “blanky” when they were born and every one of them used as their favorite “drag around” blanky. I always had a tiny bit of yarn left from each one so I started knitting them a little mini scarf to give them the Christmas they were about 2-3 years old. They loved them. They are only about 3-4 inches wide and then I measure the length so it will fit right for them.
I originally did this because the regular size scarfs were all too big but a bonus happened that I hadn’t planned on and that was they love to wear them because it feels like their “love blanky” is around their neck since I used the same yarn.
LOVE this. Thank-you. I now have a new tradition: I’ve added your column to my Christmas Planning Notebook and will read it every year before the gift-planning stage.
Thank-you and know that God is smiling as you have continued to share His “Good News of great joy to all people”!
We are cutting down on gift giving this year…..by choice. But, I am aware of two families whose lives are affected by cancer. One has to travel two hours one way, every day, for her cancer treatments, the other is the father of my friend at work whose cancer is back worse than ever and he has decided not to have any more treatments. My plan is to anonymously mail some cash to both these families as I know they must have many extra expenses during this time. Hopefully it will encourage them to know people are thinking of their needs and give them something else to think of for a few minutes as they speculate about which one of their friends would do this.
I just love this story. It is very much like me, preparing and thinking of what each person would like to receive. The last couple of years have been harder to figure out, as I got married and my husband brought 4 children (all adults 19-26) with him. It’s hard to give them gifts; I can’t compete with their mother, who gives them name brand, over priced items. What I give them seems trivial and unappreciated most of the time. I asked for ideas from their mom, but she really isn’t much help, so we are at a loss most of the time (& we don’t believe in just giving money, as it isn’t personal).
For my two children (22 & 26) we give them things they need; this year my daughter needs new tires – gift certificate under the tree and my husband take cares of it. For my son in law, son and grandson … well I still gotta little time left. My kids are easy to figure out. For our parents, gifts of time … as long as we can while they are still with us. We don’t exchange with our all of our siblings (hubs sibs don’t want to be around us, so we don’t bother) I do give something to my sister and her kids, because we are very close. My brother lives in another part of the country, so it’s hard to know what to get his family, so we exchange cards and family pictures!
Our philosophy is to only spend time and money on those who are most important to us and are a part or our daily lives.
What it really comes down to; Its not the financial cost of the gift that matters, so much as the cost of time & the thought that are put into the selection or making of the gift. Some of my most treasured gifts are the ones someone took the time to carefully, thoughtfully and lovingly purchase or make for me, regardless of the dollar value.
Ultimately, in the end it’s not about me; it’s about Jesus, who is the real reason for the season!
Thank You for the beautiful story , touches the heart and soul. I feel that it is not what you give , or , how much you give. Large or small if your gift is wrapped in the true spirit of Christmas , then is is enough. MERRY CHRISTMAS ans HAPPY NEW YEAR.
This is the BEST email message I have received all year! So perfect timing and so much like what is happening to me..Thank you for the story :-)
I have been able to stick with my budget of buying gifts and still get everyone what they need! For example I hit a great sale and was able to buy my family some winter clothes and still remain withing my budget! I did a lot with a little! I also happened to hit a used book sale at a school I work at and I got 2 books for .50 cents each so I stalked up on some books I know my family will love!
I was also able to give my grand-children some toys and clothing just by shopping the sales which DID NOT include Black Friday!
Also I will be making a hot chocolate tray with candy and home made cookies for both my daughters family and mine! This will be a great gift that can be used on a cold night!
It does get cold but it doesn’t snow where I live so:
I am also having a snow party for my family. I am making frozen “snow” simply by buying shaving creme and squirting it into a bowl, freezing it and letting the kids play with it, also we are making snow dough)white play dough with glitter) and the kids can press plastic snowflakes into them along with shiny beads. We are making “snow” by grating ivory soap and ripping up tissue paper. Add water to the right consistency and you can make anything you want including snowmen and snow balls. You can also add glitter to the mixture! I am making icicles by pouring blue jello thinly onto crinkled up plastic wrap (cool down jello first) the letting it dry a few days (so make ahead of party) and then cut the dried jello into icicle shapes and hang! I am also freezing ice cubes with paint in them so the kids can paint outside with the ice cubes. If you don’t want the mess you can have the kids just take paint to the ice cubes instead. I am also taking plastic milk jugs and putting snow men faces on them and putting white lights inside of the milk jugs to light up the snowman face!
I am also making hot chocolate rice by taking uncooked rice putting it in a plastic zip-lock bag adding rubbing alcohol or vinegar and adding food coloring to make the rice brown. After leaving it over night I will dry it out overnight on cookie sheets. After the rice is dry I will put it in a plastic bin and add cotton balls for the “marshmallows” I will add plastic cups and spoons and other fun stuff so the kids can play and have a blast with it!
I am also making snowman cupcakes and home made peppermint popcorn to go with our movie Happy Feet! Most of the stuff I am using for this party is stuff I already have on hand like ice cube trays, flour, cornstarch , rice ect. so it will not cost me anything to do this and the kids will have a great time! I think the kids will LOVE this because it is fun, fun, fun ALL day without getting board!!! It really doesn’t cost a lot to have fun or give gifts! I used to hate gift giving because the person who receives the gift feels that their gift has to be equal in price and WOW factor than what they are giving and it always is so awkward! I like what the Bible says “There is more happiness in giving that receiving….” This is something I like to live by!
Thank you for your article- it is very timely and needed. I agree sadly with the story. I knew some people like this and felt sorry for them cause they werent able to see the true meaning of christmas gift sharing. Those gifts brought to Jesus were to be used in his burial. They had meaning, just as the woman put thought, meaning and mostly LOVE into her gifts. Let us not loose sight of what gift giving can mean even on the most meager salaries. Just a loving note to someone is a GIFT! God bless you all !
I am 53-my friends & I don’t exchange gifts for Bday or Christmas any more because we HAVE EVERYTHING we need. We get together to share a meal and it’s more than enough. I didn’t understand when I was in my 20’s and my Grandma would beg me not to get her anything. Now I understand, we all have too much stuff and we don’t “need” more. I am downsizing my stuff. I give 80% to Charity & have a fantasy of selling 20% (the $$$ stuff)on EBAY. As people are now dying in my life I really value spending time with friends talking and listening to them. I suddenly “woke” up and realized it could be ME dying tomorrow and I don’t want to waste the time I have left—shopping–I want to have some fun everyday and say “Thank you” for every day I have left. I am very blessed to have what I do have. Appreciate more and worry less.
20 years ago, my family decided we would give $1 gifts so we would have something to open but we would end the stress of trying to find the right gifts for each other. This was before dollar stores were around. Mostly, we gave each other gift certificates to spend time with each other or some little something, our expectations were not high, so we were not disappointed in the gifts. Christmas should be a thankful time to God for his Son, Merry Christmas not Merry Commercialism. I have not put a Christmas tree up for 15 years. It is not the way I want to celebrate the birth of my Lord. After you open all that junk under your tree, you may want to have everyone agree now to $1 gift next year. It will open up a whole new world of Christmas for you. Tina, 42
Like so many things I really think there are happy mediums. I do agree that things have gotten a little out of hand for some in the gift giving area but at the same time in Esther 9:20-21 when Esther had saved the Jews it says that there was a decree that because of her saving the Jews they were to set aside certain days to celebrate their being saved and their sorrow should be turned to joy. That there should be a time of feasting and joy and sending of presents to one another and to give gifts to the poor. If something like Esther saving her people from their enemies should be celebrated in this way and with such importance to me the birth of our Savoir, His coming and saving us from “the enemy” should be celebrated at least equally so if not more so.
God loves giving us gifts so I believe it pleases Him and does His heart good to see us giving gifts to each other in love the same way He does to us. I like to believe too there will be great feasting and celebrating in heaven so why not do it here too. Jesus even celebrated all the different feasts when He was here on earth. It is so sad the way many Christians think if they deprive themselves it makes them more spiritual and closer to God but I am so grateful God doesn’t take that view and gives me great and wonderful gifts daily. I can never thank Him enough for all He gives me blessing me in spiritual, emotional and even material things.
Sometimes we work so hard at doing certain things because we think that or works will save us or make us a better Christian but there is nothing I can do in and of myself or by my own works that can do that. We have to be so careful not to be like the Pharisee who stood where all could see him puffing up his chest and saying I am so glad I am not like others who do this or that but look at me in my sack cloth and ashes. Instead we should be like the poor man who humbly bowed before God, not drawing attention to himself and realizing that even the most holy of things I try to do are not do are nothing in the presence of God without Christ and what He did.
I LOVE giving gifts even when I get nothing in return. Why not invite them over to enjoy a dish to pass meal and give them a bagful of gifts for under their tree as they leave (or have an accomplice put them in their trunk while they eat)? They will still enjoy the gifts, you get the pleasure of their stress-free company, and they learn the joy of giving through your actions.
I was so upset yesterday when i read a friend’s FB status. She was so surprised to hear someone talk about receiving oranges for Christmas and how that was such a big deal to them. I am not from that era, but I think an orange is a fine gift (who doesn’t like fruit?) I don’t think people understand that even a small token of your affection will be welcomed by someone who truly cares about you. I’d even be happy to get no gift at all and just spend time with that friend or loved one.
My husband and I have not “scaled back” this year, because we have never had a great deal to spend anyway. Because of certain exchanges between families last year, we had about $5 to spend on each other. This year, the family changed the amount we spent on the exchange because we, along with my dad, felt it was more important to spend more money on spouses than extended family.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of discussion in family exchanges and you just need to speak up. Other family members may feel the same way you do (as we found out with my dad). Other times, as we have discovered with other branches of the family, you just have to make the decision to axe gifts (maybe they’re unappreciated, not received well, etc.) and just send a Christmas card instead.
Thank you for your story. I, like most everyone, still have my moments of doubt or guilt because “I haven’t spent enough.” But, as you said in another post, if you’re a good wife, mother, sister, daughter, etc. throughout the year, than no gift or a nominal gift is no big deal.
I too love even the smallest gift. We once received a small basket of oranges and I thought they were as much a treat as anything else we received. The thing is most people can buy what ever they want for themselves, oranges included, so they don’t think of them as special but if you have ever been to the point of mot having money, credit card or food bank and no food, you tend to treasure even the smallest thing like a orange. Plus most don’t understand our history and getting a orange for a treat years ago was as special as someone getting a 1 lb. Hershey’s candy bar now. They didn’t have transportation to bring food from one place to another quickly enough and these things weren’t available. I even remember when they first started coming out with avocado recipes and they were near impossible to find.
Awesome posts. How true it is that real giving comes from the heart, regardless of monetary cost. I am reminded of a sweet Christian lady, a mother of 10, who said in all sincerity a few years back, how blessed she was to be remembered by someone, even if the gift was as simple as a hair clip. I knew she meant it, and she was not in dire financial straights. We, too have had thoughtful, time consuming gifts either despised or taken for granted by close family members, and after a few years had to make a decision….either keep giving without expecting a grateful response, or give to others who will appreciate it more. (Our extended family didn’t have the time or energy to say thank you when their parcels arrived, even when we made the phone call long distance, on Christmas Day. One member was too busy watching t.v. to come to the phone.) The worst feeling is to receive a gift from someone who makes you feel like giving to you is a huge burden and inconvenience. I would rather have no gift than an obligation gift. So, we freed up those family members (not that we ever expected gifts in return) by saying we would rather stop exchanging gifts (their children are all grown), and we would just send a Christmas card instead. There was no protest. We now give money set aside for extended family gifts, to charitable causes, and suggested that if they wanted to give gifts (ear marked for us), they could find a charity of their choice to donate to, instead. Surprise, surprise….they came up with countless excuses (most very far fetched) as to why they could not give to any charity, any amount. They are well off, and we did not pressure them to give anything to any one. We just made a suggestion. We have come to the conclusion that while it may be insensitive, selfish or hurtful when someone refuses to give in any way, in the end they are the real losers in the mix. Who hasn’t been more blessed to give in some way, than to receive? Thank you for all your articles, and Merry Christmas to you and all the people who read and post on this site. Finding this place has been a huge gift to me.
Your post reminds me of a Christmas when I was about 19. I love giving Christmas gifts, especially to Children. That year I was dating a very nice Christian boy, although back then of course we thought we were all grown up, with a huge family. I knew that while the adults might be alright without a gift from their Uncle and I, who had been invited for the first time to share that special day, it wouldn’t be alright with me. Naturally though, he and I both worked part time. Plus I had my own brother and parents to buy gifts for as well. When I counted everyone over one up on my fingers and toes, it came to gifts for 14 kids and eight adults!!
I didn’t let it stop me. We agreed to let me do the shopping, and off I went. I went to pawn shops where I found lovely gold and SS jewelry for pennies, literally a basket of nice, subtle earrings for $3 a pair! Another place had men’s watches all very very nice all different for $5! Then in the local paper I saw a fund raiser for a local charity. I went and for $2,50 each were wonderful hand-carved animals you could pull on a string and their feet would move, and if you bought 4 you got a free hand made wooden car. The cars were normally $5, but when I explained what I was doing, the lovely retired man who was the carver reduced the price! Poof! Toys for All!! I even had enough money of my own to buy a board game for my family. Everyone especially the kids were thrilled, and the wooden toys were a big hit.
Even though it later turned out he wasn’t ‘the one’, it was a wonderful Chistmas and I felt very happy that all the kids had something to remember that Christmas with their Uncle Rob and his friend, more than a piece of plastic too. More importantly, it showed me that the price of the gift wasn’t nearly as important as the thought behind it, that I could be frugal and the real meaning of Christmas would still come shining through.
With so many nieces & nephews above 8 years old- I go to florist & buy pretty flower wrap paper, than head to the store and buy sodas & small bags of chips. I place the coke & chips in the wrap – drop a candy cane or kisses In the wrap.Then tie with a ribbon. Really cute to do – looks pretty and best of all I am able to give all a gift & I am sure they eat/drink it.
I love home made presents and I really treasure the charity shop “ornaments” that the kids bought me when they were small.
If there is some spare money, rather than buying something for people who already have plenty, it’s lovely to send e.g. a mosquito net, or even a toilet via a charity , to some needy person or group abroad. They send you a card that you post to your friend saying something like “Merry Christmas . Here’s your Cow.”
I’m so thankful I found this post. Made my day and blessed my heart. It put my thoughts of gift giving this year back into perspective of what CHRIST mas is really about. JESUS is always the answer. God’s blessings to you.
I love giving Christmas gifts and we have a very small family, yet even so my sister this morning decreed that adults don’t need to give one another gifts and “Santa isn’t real” and Christmas is for the children. In other words her cheap husband complained about the expense of Christmas gifts. Of course, I’m to give her daughter a gift, while my children are deemed adults now.
I feel crushed and miserable although reading this, as I do every year, made me feel much better.
It is hard when families aren’t always on the same page especially this time of year. It is sad because this time of year the very worst and very best seem to come out in people. I know exactly what you are talking about.
Thanks, Jill. You probably don’t remember me but I’ve been a reader for decades now and you’ve given me so much good advice over the years. I really treasure your writing.
Oh Harriet it means so much when you guys that have been with us “forever” let us know. I really do recognize a lot of the ones who have been here for so long. You guys are like very old friends. Thank you so much for being faithful to us and sticking with us. It means a lot. I wish you another Merry Christmas!