spaghettipie

Advent

Yes, I know it’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas (although I bet some of you have already started your Christmas shopping), but my Writer’s Group is working on an advent devotional guide for our women’s ministry at church. My first two devotions are due to my group next Monday, and I’m having a little trouble getting started. I’d like to write something around the joy of giving gifts, and yet how stressful it becomes around Christmastime (due to finances, picking the right gift, giving a gift or not, finding time to shop, etc). So, if you’re willing to step out and comment, would you mind answering the following question for me?

How do you (personally) remain a joyful gift giver?

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7 comments

  1. MEH

    I LOVE Christmas and giving gifts and I don’t usually struggle with the joy part of it!! I think it has a lot to do with how I was raised. My parents always had us buy with our own money or make presents for them and our 4 siblings. My mom and dad were always available to help make “special projects” and this was also a major part of the fun. Those little rules forced us to start early and it kept the expectations reasonable and so there wasn’t stress involved. No one was allowed to make a list …anything we requested from our parents we were sure to NOT get. It was and still is so much fun for me to think about what a person would enjoy, the process of getting it, and then the surprise on their face when they open it. Oh, and I also try and stay away from malls! That is pretty much a year-round commitment.

  2. I love giving gifts! I think one reason people get so crabby about gifts is because of our cultures huge problem with entitlement. In today’s culture it’s hard because often the people we are buying for already have “everything” and so we feel the need to buy bigger and better, more expensive “things”, secondly, we get caught up in “have to’s”.

    I think being a cheerful giver is important (since God said it), but being a thoughtful giver is of great value. One of my favorite birthday gifts was from MEH years ago when she showed up at my door with her famous coconut pound cake lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar and wrapped with a simple bow. It was simple, but it was thoughtful. Not to mention delicious! I will never forget it.

    Another thing I have done is with my dear friend Jen. A couple years ago we agreed to not exchange gifts at Christmas. We do this because we both love our birthdays. We would rather do something thoughtful for each other in our birthdays than to buy some random thing at Christmas just to cross each other off our lists.

    Also, The Mister and I have set a limit each year on how much we will spend on Christmas. Having a budget forces me to get creative. Which takes a bit more time.

    So I guess my long winded answer to being joyful is to be thoughtful; to let go of the worldly thoughts of “more is better”; and to communicate. And yes, nothing makes me crabbier, less thoughtful, and over budget, than trying to come up with a gift at the last minute. So plan ahead.

  3. By buying or making the gifts throughout the year and not waiting till the last minute. If I wait till December, I’m not very thoughtful or joyous. Also I’m allergic to Christmas trees and scented stuff, so last minute shopping can be deadly. šŸ˜¦

    I’ve got a cabinet full of gifts for people, and little Michael has a wooden chest full of future legos and toy soldiers and dinosaurs and toy guns just waiting for him to turn three so that he can safely play with them.

    If I absolutely can’t think of anything good by November, then I head to mcphee.com. Tubs of mini-ninjas, avenging narwhals, nun chucks, plastic ants, bacon bandages, mmmm…bacon…. may not be thoughtful, but are joyous and smile inducing. šŸ™‚

  4. spaghettipie

    BJ – You certainly don’t have to bake me a cake. I hope you have fun!

    MEH – Thanks for your input. I love to give gifts as well, but find that sometimes at Christmastime that joy is robbed by the stress of the holidays. Your thoughts are helpful! I avoid malls like the plague during big shopping holidays, too.

    K – I love your examples, and agree that planning ahead can definitely make a difference. It’s a tough balance for me to be thoughtful and completely stress out over picking the “right” gift. I like how you coupled being thoughtful with letting go of worldly expectations.

    M – A common theme – starting ahead of time! I like how you think ahead, and I’ve noticed you’ve always been a thoughtful gift giver as well.

  5. Amy

    To be honest how I remain joyful is watching others open the gift I have given. And I like to spend time thinking about them specifically and wrapping the gift to their taste, or making them something that took time, and if I think on it pray for them as I wrap the gift.

    I also like to find creative ways to share the Christmas ( you know Jesus’ birth) story with my 3 year old. It helps me focus in the evening. We might take our our flannel board and depict the picture or read the Word and sing songs together. Just doing family worship every night for 10 minutes helps refocus my day.

    The other way is simply having worshipful Christmas music on all the time!

  6. spaghettipie

    A – Love your ideas, including the one you mentioned on the phone about how you only give your son three gifts at Christmas in order to teach him about the wise men, give him reasonable expectations and a right focus and simplify your life.

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