Note: My editor (aka Eric) does not usually read my posts in advance, but I've had him read through each of the posts in this series to offer feedback before they're published on-line. It's been funny how I've been reminded of my college writing days this week, in the sense that I've been doing a lot of reading and preparing to put these together. All of that to say, my initial post for today was quite lengthy and dense, and Eric encouraged me to split it in two. I saw the wisdom in that suggestion and thus, what follows is part 1 of a series within a series =)--part 2 will be up on Friday.
Today we're talking about gift giving, which is clearly a hot topic when it comes to Christmas! Nathan is still quite young, but we really desire to cultivate an attitude of generous giving and gracious receiving, not just at Christmas but throughout the year.
I was struck by a story from the book in which a 9-year-old boy gave his mom a list for Santa that was over 60 items long, and the mom was deeply troubled and unsure of how to proceed. According to the authors of Unplug the Christmas Machine, "Many parents find it a challenge to create a simple, value-centered Christmas in the midst of all the commercial pressure. But the task is made much easier when parents keep in mind the four things children really want for Christmas: relaxed and loving time with the family, realistic expectations about gifts, an evenly paced holiday season and reliable family traditions."
The writers suggest being specific about what kids can expect in terms of presents, as in one large gift, one small gift, and a stocking. Or, you could follow my mom's wonderful example (which I wrote about here in a fun post of some of our own family traditions). I also like the idea of parents giving 3 gifts to their children, just like the wise men brought to Jesus. In fact, somewhere recently I read of a parent categorizing the gifts like the gold (big ticket item), frankincense (something educational) and myrrh (something practical). (This is how I best remember it and I would gladly give credit if someone can reference the source!)
In talking about gifts, I think it's important (and somewhat humorous!) to acknowledge some of our ingrained beliefs and perceptions about giving. Check out this list from the book:
"The Ten Hidden Gift-Giving Rules"
1. Give a gift to everyone you expect to get one from.
2. If someone gives you a gift unexpectedly, reciprocate that year. (Or have prewrapped generic gifts set aside for just such an occasion.)
3. When you add a name to your gift list, give that person a gift every year thereafter.
4. The amount of money you spend on a gift determines how much you care about the recipient.
5. Gifts exchanged between adults should be roughly equal in value.
6. The presents you give someone should be fairly consistent in value over the years.
7. If you give a gift to a person in one category (for example, a co-worker or neighbor), give a gift to everyone in that category. and these gifts should be similar in value.
8. Women should give gifts to their close woman friends.
9. Men should not give gifts to their male friends, unless these are alcoholic beverages.
10. Whenever the above rules cause you any difficulty, remedy the situation by buying more gifts.
Which of these "rules" do you identify most with?
On Friday we'll talk about ways to challenge these rules, so get your thinking caps on!