Is it wrong to buy something for someone else, rather than my teens and adult son, my husband - like chickens for a family in a developing country through charities such as TEAR Australia, or as I just did today - a book each (The Prisoner: An invitation to hope, Paul Everett) for the lonely prisoners I write to ? Is it wrong to put money into things we can share - like the vegie garden we've wanted to get started? Is it wrong to not spend money at all?
On Christmas day my best friend is coming down for lunch with her family. We have decided that we will not exchange gifts with the intention of turning the focus onto what Christmas is about - the birth of Christ, who would surely have a thing or two to say to us about what we have done with his birthday! I am looking forward to sharing conversation and laughter over a meal, playing board games, to a long walk in the late afternoon, and to just being in the presence of these people I love dearly. I know my children are too, and they have not shown any disappointment at the 'no gifts' idea. (Well at least when it comes to Christmas day. There are a few 'humphs' about no individual gifts at all. We are planning family conference about this. Homemade gifts - especially food, are a real possibility.)
It is difficult to broach this subject with some people, and so I usually don't. It can seem as though I am being self righteous, and not at all how I want to come across. I just want to be allowed to approach Christmas my way, without being labelled a scrooge and yes I would like to challenge my family to consider where we stand on this. Really we have more than enough. Our house can't fit any more. It feels almost obscene.
The first to visit Jesus at his birth were the shepherds. They were humble. They brought nothing but themselves. (Why do we forget this and think of the kings and their expensive gifts?) This Christmas I want Jesus to be enough to satisfy me. And I want to know that I am enough. The love of Jesus is not conditional on a gift. And thank goodness for that. I recently read that we are atrocious at gift giving. Apparently Americans give over 70 billion dollars worth of gifts that the receivers don't want or even like!
Now after reading this you may be surprised to know that I am a gift giver ( I actually love to give something of myself - a prized possession, something I've made, books that will make a difference, a letter or card...). I just don't believe that we have to give expensive gifts that will put us, or our loved ones, in debt. And if there is any time that we should remember this it is at Christmas when Jesus entered this world naked, with nothing but love to give.