Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Family gifts I like buying

Terri and I do not buy our children Christmas presents anymore. Instead we give each of them cash that is enclosed in a card containing a particular message. The card encourages the recipients to enjoy the money as they see fit. It further reminds them that the true Christmas message is about sacrificial giving to benefit those in need and so it would be appropriate to use some portion of the gift for that purpose.

I like this approach because it at least causes our children to think about helping someone in need in this season in which we ostensibly remember the coming of Jesus who gave up everything to save a world in need. Furthermore giving cash relieves Terri and me of the daunting task of hunting down sometimes elusive gifts for our children. Besides, by receiving cash on Christmas day our kids can go and take advantage of those after Christmas markdowns for whatever portion of the cash they keep for themselves.

Terri and I do not exchange gifts on Christmas, nor do we give each other cash. Instead we make donations in honor of one another to organizations that assist those in need. On our birthdays we give one another more traditional presents, but not on Christmas.

There are a couple of exceptions to the Christmas gift-giving pattern noted above. We buy inexpensive stocking-stuffers for our children and Terri and I exchange Christmas tree ornaments. Furthermore, I always include a Christmas tree ornament in the stocking of each of my daughters.

I always look forward to picking out the tree ornaments and I choose carefully. This year I went to five stores in an attempt to find the right ornaments for my daughters. Normally each of them is given a different style, but this year I found one that I liked so much that I got the same one for each of them. It is a large glass ball with a painting of Mary, Joseph and Jesus in a stable. On the opposite "side" is the year, 2007, written in gold glitter-glue. I had Terri personalize each ornament to each daughter with glitter-glue and she did a great job--it looks like it was professionally done.

Terri likes glass ball ornaments from a particular gift shop near her hometown. This year I got her one from that shop on which I had engraved on one side "Terri 2007." On the other side I had engraved the scripture reference, Song of Solomon 7:6, and I prefer the rendering of the TNIV. Actually, there was not room for the entire book title much less the entire verse, so the inscription reads "S of S 7:6."

I'm pretty sure Christmas ornament buying is my most enthusiastic embrace of Christmas consumerism. I suppose, in the case of my daughters, I could try to make ornaments by hand which would stop me from shelling out cash after scouring five stores. In Terri's case, I don't see how I can make her preferred ornaments by hand unless I take up glass blowing and glass engraving.

For the time being, however, I am content to help a few ornament manufacturers and retailers to make a little money at Christmas.

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