On November 25th of this year, the day after American Thanksgiving, I was walking in Gurney Mall and over the sound system heard “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and several other Christmas carols. In the U.S. it no longer surprises people that in mid-November you will see Christmas decorations already on display in stores and shopping malls.
The Christmas season has become incredibly important to many businesses and corporations around the world. Many stores throughout the U.S. will do 75% of their business in the months of November and December. The average American will spend an estimated $600 – $750 USD on gifts for family and friends this coming Christmas.
I love Christmas for many reasons and one of the reasons is the gifts. No, not what I personally get from my family or what is under the tree, but more the fact that we do have a season where we seek to give to others. I love it for the gift that is the purpose of the season – Christ and what that represents to my family and me. The spirit of giving and receiving is wonderful and deserves to extend beyond the holiday season.
Each year pastors preach sermons and editors write articles about the commercialization of Christmas and the loss of Christ from the season. I join them in their concern but instead of writing about it, I want to simply suggest that we take small steps this year in our families to nullify some of the commercialism and materialism that is seeping into our celebration of Christ’s birth. Listed below are some suggestions I found that might help you and your family stem the tide of the commercialized Christmas. This list is a little lengthy but by no means complete and may even help you germinate some of your own ideas:
- For a gift this year write a letter to each of your family members listing the ten things you love about them. If you have children help them write a letter to each family member.
- Give the gift of time to your children in different ways – a commitment throughout the year to set time each month / week / day with them. You can do this with a certificate that states the time you plan to give to them.
- Give of yourself – a coupon book for future services (back rubs, dates, mowing the lawn, building furniture, changing diapers, etc.) that can be redeemed by the family member.
- Instead of buying a toy or something from the store, see if you can find a book that you loved growing up and give it to your child. If you can find the actual book you had somewhere in storage have it rebound and write a note on the inside cover.
- Compile a CD of the family member’s favorite music. This can be done through iTunes. The difference between this CD and store-bought ones is the time and thought you put in to selecting the songs.
- Take one of your favorite family pictures from the year and frame it as a gift to a family member (grandparents, spouse, etc.). Like the CD, what makes this idea special is the thought put into selecting the picture and the framing.
- Buy a game for the family that can be played together throughout the year (anything that turns off the TV and has the family having some fun together is a golden gift).
- Turn off the TV. Although the kids might not see this as a gift, if you find alternatives for them to do with you, they might not complain so loudly.
- Make something instead of buying it. Go to a craft store with your kids and find supplies to make your own creation.
- Make them work for it. . . instead of giving the gift straight to the child and have him/her unwrap it, give it to your child by means of a treasure hunt. The fun of the treasure hunt will make the gift more memorable.
These are just some suggestions. If you have some that you already do with your family, or new ideas you’ve thought of after reading the list, let me know. I would love to hear about them.