Gift-giving traditions

Christmas break is almost here for my kids, so today I'm finishing the Christmas shopping and wrapping the presents. I talk to a lot of people who are conflicted about how many gifts their kids get. I'll tell you that we spoil our kids for Christmas. If they need something and it's anywhere near Christmas, I wrap it up and put it under the tree. We also always try to replenish our game closet at Christmas along with some of the things that the girls ask for.

I love giving gifts, and every year I say that this year we're going to cut back and give the kids less. However, by the time Christmas rolls around, I find they have a bunch of stuff. I've made peace with that. We don't buy our kids much in the way of extravagant toys or gifts during the year. Birthdays are a big deal around our house, but most of that effort goes into a party, not a gift. So, I've decided not to fight my love of gift-giving, and we spoil our kids at Christmas.

That doesn't work for all families. I talk to a lot of people about their Christmas traditions and gift-giving traditions run the gamut from lots of gifts to one gift to three gifts. I know people who give their kids "something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read." Whatever works for your family is the way you should do it.

However, when you are giving gifts, no matter the number, make sure your kids understand the joy of giving as well as of receiving. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says "God loves a cheerful giver." But, that's sometimes hard for kids to get their heads around. Our greedy nature makes us want to receive more than give. Involve your kids in the gift-giving process. Have them make or pick out the gifts for their friends and family. It may be more work for you, but it gives them a chance to get excited about giving to others.

One tradition that some of my friends have that I love is the right/left Christmas game. It's one more way to sneak in a reading of the story of Jesus' birth while having a lot of fun. You can find the text of the game here. Buy a gift for the whole family. Read the right/left version of the Christmas story. Every time you hear the word "right", pass the package one person to the right. Every time you hear the word "left," pass the package one person to the left. The person left with the package at the end of the story gets to open it. The kids love it and it makes them really listen to the story.

No matter what type of gift-giving traditions you have in your family, be sure to remind your kids that the reason that we give gifts is because Jesus came to earth as a gift to us. The wise men brought Him gifts as an act of worship. We acknowledge those things by giving gifts to each other.

Go, this season, and be cheerful givers.