Kevin and I had many conversations about what Christmas would look like for our kids when we were pregnant eight years ago. We knew we wanted to focus on Christ, we knew we wanted to build traditions, and we knew we wanted it to be fun for our kids.
From the start we decided that each person in our family would receive three gifts, in honor of the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that was given to Jesus. It gave us a great avenue to fully incorporate the real Christmas story into our gift-giving. For several years we have participated in Operation Christmas Child and purchased toys to fit into shoe boxes with our children for other children of similar ages who might not have Christmas presents otherwise. This year we have been challenged by the question, “What does Jesus get for His birthday?” And so we have decided that starting this year, our kids will each choose a gift to give Jesus at Christmas.
Here are the steps we took to make this happen for our family:
• Research which charity you would like to support from a reputable independent charity evaluator like charitynavigator.org. We also look for organizations that actively tell people about Jesus and try to steer away from those who claim Christian roots but don’t tell those they serve about Him.
• Request a Christmas catalog from the charity of your choice.
• Reduce your gift-giving by 10-50% to allow for money to be used for this purpose.
• Limit your kids’ choices to fit your budget.
• Tell your kids what you are doing and why.
• Let them pick what they want to give to Jesus.
The beautiful thing about this is that it can really fit any budget. (We also love that most of these options have long-term benefits.) Here are some of the options we found:
• Warm blanket $6
• Life-saving mosquito nets $10
• One dozen chicks $14
• 30 fruit-bearing seedlings $45
• Fishing boat $50
• Goats or other dairy animals $70
• Clean water for a thirsty community $10,000 (See why you need to limit their choices?)
Christmas is a great time to demonstrate the love God has shown for us by loving those who are in need. We are called to live our lives with Jesus as our example. Jesus spent His life reaching out to the poor. He gave His perfect life to extend to us the perfect gift of salvation. The perfect Giver became the perfect Gift. Giving in the name of Jesus is a tradition we hold dear and there are many interesting and tangible ways a child can experience the love of Christ.
(I only entitled this article “Jesus is Better than Santa” to get your attention. If you were interested in this article to read about an opinion on Santa, read Mark Driscoll’s great article here: http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/mark_driscoll/2010/12/what_we_tell_our_kids_about_santa.html)