In the series The Advent Conspiracy, Give More comes after Spend Less. This might seem like an oxymoron, but it’s not about giving more in quantity, but more quality.
Because I’m sure, when you heard “more” your heart sunk a little bit. More? I can’t do more! With the decorations, the shopping, the baking, the parties, the family functions, I can barely survive Christmas as it is!
Let’s face it – Christmas is stressful, even though no one will talk about it – because it’s Jesus’s birthday! Why do we cringe every time someone asks us “Are you ready for Christmas?” As though it’s a blizzard or a final exam! I know people who get sick after the holidays every year because they run themselves into the ground. Too often our Christmas to-do lists are weighed down by the obligations of the season and this sucks the joy right out of it.
It doesn’t have to be this way. God intended for us to celebrate the birth of His son with celebrations that are full of love, relationship and family, not stress. Somehow we know these are the important things about Christmas, which is why we say things like “the real meaning of Christmas” and “Keep Christ in Christmas”. Last year we asked the youth group what was their favourite part of Christmas and overwhelming number said time with family.
How can we sort through the mass of disposable decorations and the chaotic shopping malls and get back to the celebration? By returning to the real Reason for the Season – the true Gift.
“For God so loved the world that He GAVE His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
God gave of Himself for us so that we might live fully with Him. This is what we celebrate. Jesus was God’s gift to us because He loved us and we mirror that by giving gifts that show love to each other. Good gifts are intentional and relational, and can look many different ways. Not just your standard plush housecoat that no one will ever wear! You can give a good gift, or give of your time, your resources to truly bless someone. It takes some planning and thought, but is well worth it and will reflect the Great Giver much more that the canned, packaged fluff we often resort to out of desperation to fulfill The List. Here are some great ideas resources to get started with giving relational gifts.
People generally give and receive love five different ways. They are a good starting point for thinking of creative gift ideas:
5 love languages –
Touch – massage, foot rub, free hugs/kiss
Quality time – dates, season pass to something you enjoy, a shared experience
Service – Jobs that need to be done, coupons for doing dishes
Encouraging words – write a card or letter, a scrapbook of notes from loved ones, a journal to pass back and forth
Gifts – Listen to desires, needs, observe what gives them life? Things that are handmade, locally made, beautiful and/or practical
My husband gave me a great gift of quality time last year. He gave me twelve envelopes, one for each month of the year, each containing a card describing a date we would go on that month. Some were specific, a show at the Imperial on a certain date, or a bit more open-ended like a home date where I pick the meal and the movie. It was a lovely gift that made me feel loved. I have enjoyed it all year.
My mom used to give me great gifts. She would frequently give me art supplies so that I could explore my creativity in new ways. Over the years she has given me a pottery wheel, beads, wool, clay, paint and brushes, and much more. These are the gifts of an experience, not just something that will pick up dust on the shelf.
Giving intentionally and relationally might be more work, but it is life-giving rather than life-draining. Shopping in the crowded malls until you drop is draining! God’s ways bring life. Ask yourself, how can I give more quality, give more of myself this Christmas so I will reflect my Father who gave the ultimate gift of love?
More resources for gift ideas
If you have the means, find a way to give to someone who is in more need than you are. Even better, do it as a family. Give money, food, clothes or your time.
Here are some good places to connect with:
Charities and organizations to give to in SJ:
Chat to the Future
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