I was going to be good this year, and not buy lots of stuff for the kids. I’m struggling with, “Maybe we should just buy goats and cows and ducks and chickens through World Vision instead?” I definitely want my children to be givers. Not focus so much on materialism. So should we even put gifts under the tree? And then I went shopping! Last night. I came home with bags!
Not all “stuff” is bad, right? See, I stopped first at the Homeschool Connection store, looking for… I can’t remember now. EVERYTHING was 15% off, since they’re going out of business! It’s all educational, so, it’s all good? Stuff like puppets and wooden theatres, train sets, tons of Melissa and Doug toys, art supplies, castles and knights, dress-up clothes, science projects, math games, maps, charts, posters, and of course, any school books and teachers guides you would need for homeschooling! Wow, it was fun!
I bought stuff.
At Kohls, I bought more stuff. Hey, Nerf refills and Play-Dough restocking is a must! And socks. The Man needed socks. (Which I gave to him the minute I got home, lest you think I’m one of those lousy “sock givers” at Christmas!)
At Target, I bought more stuff. Well, just one thing. For the baby! Mustn’t let her feel left out, you know, in the ripping off of wrapping paper! (And it was something I’ve had on my “replace” list…) I rarely shop at Target, and now I’m convinced that’s a good thing. Very good! I would spend WAY TOO MUCH MONEY if I visited Target on a regular basis. There was a super cool Nerf shield/sword set that ended up in my hands several times. But, I did set it back down. For now. Maybe I’ll sneak back. (Cboy has a birthday right after Christmas, after all!)
I felt like sneaking all my bags into the house and into a closet when I got home. But I didn’t! I showed Dee my treasures, and he actually gave me hugs and kisses and said, “Good job, Baby!”
Whew! Guess I didn’t do so bad after all!
My gut feeling on this issue of Christmas Presents is that it’s okay to bless our children with gifts. Not overboard, but gift-giving is a Godly characteristic.
As far as giving to the rest of the world, and the orphans and widows in our own backyard, it doesn’t mean squat at Christmas if we’re not giving year-round! God knows our heart. If we’re “donating” at Christmas because we feel guilty, will He honor it? I doubt it. Sure, we can give goats and fresh water at Christmas, and fill shoeboxes with gifts for poor children, but what else are we doing?
Are we filling bottles with change for the crisis pregnancy center? Or even writing a check? Are we volunteering our time at public schools’ release time for kids? Or the local relief center? Are we passing bags of nice clothing on to someone in church instead of selling it? (Me! I’m guilty of this!) Are we praying for and sending money to the missionaries we know, or that our church supports? Are we giving to these people anonymously, or taking a tax write-off? Are we paying some stranger’s grocery bill? Or better yet, sending groceries to a family we know that’s struggling financially? What about stopping to give the “lazy bum” at the Wal-Mart corner the rest of our cash? Donating that $1 at the checkout counter? Are we inviting the “unlovely” into our homes, to share a meal or just some friendship? What about abused children? Rape victims? Pregnant teens? Children and women trapped in the (United States!) sex-trade industry? Are we bringing our family to the nursing homes and soup kitchens? Can we offer to watch kids for free, so a mom and dad can “date?” Buy huge boxes of diapers for a family with a new baby?
So many ways to give…
Giving has to be a way of life, not a once-a-year offering.
This fall, my family was here on a Sunday when a missionary was speaking at church, about life in Africa. I didn’t want to stop at Starbucks on the way home, to pay $2.21 for a cup of coffee. I knew that $2.21 could buy precious more than a cup of coffee in Africa! I said something, about wanting to save the $2.21 that week, and not spend it on coffee.
My dad spoke up with words he’d heard from a long ago pastor. The gist was,
“Don’t talk about ‘not spending’ money because of poor people in another country, unless you’re actually going to take and send that money to another country!”
So I think I will keep sending money to other countries! And to families from here. I think I will keep giving my kids presents at Christmas, and also buy goats and chickens for families in South America. I know I’ll keep drinking coffee! But I’m going to do my best to SAVE in order to GIVE all year long.