More than Presents Under the Tree

gifts under the tree

Three years ago in December, I wrote a blog entitled Avoiding the Plague of Materialism. You can read it here. This year as it gets closer to Christmas I am still aware of many of the same things, and am trying to pass on to my children the importance and blessing of giving to others, instead of focusing on all that they are going to receive. We really don’t want our children to see the celebration of the birth of Jesus as little more than presents under the tree. It is SO much more than this, but the commercialization of Christmas makes it tricky for this I want attitude to stay away from our homes doesn’t it? It means that we have to be so intentional as we live out our lives as Christ followers.

This year we have had the opportunity to purchase gifts for children overseas and for children in our community, and because of this we are thankful that we have been able to show our kids ways in which we can look to meet the needs of others, instead of focusing on ourselves and our wants. As they grow older, we will continue to watch for age appropriate ways to serve as a family that will broaden the awareness that our girls have of the needs around them – not only physical needs, but also spiritual needs.

My hope is that this year as our girls open up their simple gifts which we thoughtfully picked out for them, that they will be thankful. That each year as they mature, that they will grow in awareness and understanding of the responsibility as one of the wealthiest nations in the world, to care for our neighbours in the third world. That they will be aware of how many opportunities they are given in this country, and that they will not take their life for granted. That they will have an eternal perspective on life as they live out Christ’s command to care for the orphans and the widows.

May we teach our children with wisdom and joy this Christmas season.

Karen

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25 4 & 5

 

Avoiding the Plague of Materialism

As Christmas gets closer I can’t help but think about how to pass on to my children the things that my husband and I value. This includes valuing people over stuff, and not getting caught up in materialism.  How are we trying to avoid this?

Each year for Christmas we try to keep our focus on Jesus, and on others. We keep our gifts very simple, and try to give our kids homemade items – this year they are getting a puppet theatre. My husband is building the frame, and I will be sewing the curtains. I am excited for all of the puppet shows that will be happening in our home very shortly! I’m also making each of them a quilt for their beds – last year our oldest daughter got a bird quilt and this year our next daughter will be getting a flower quilt.

They also don’t watch any television with commercials at home (and a very limited amount of tv at all), and we don’t often go shopping which keeps them from seeing all of the different toys out there that they don’t yet have (we always find that when we leave a mall we always want things that we didn’t even think about before going).

We also talk a fair bit about how fortunate we are to have our basic needs met (like having a home to live in and food to eat), and about how many other people do not have these things. We talk about the responsibility we have of sharing what we have with others.

Even so I fear that with all of our efforts, just by raising them in North America with our culture’s affluence and abundance of “stuff”, they will become like the majority of people in our country (myself included) and think more about themselves and our too-busy lives than about others in need.  Lately I have been trying to make a conscious effort to put no worth in material things, and to focus on people and on loving them both directly and indirectly with all of my day to day choices, thoughts and deeds.

For those of you who share these values of living simply, caring for the poor and those in need, and of avoiding the plague of materialism – what are things that you do to pass these values on to your children?

Thanks for reading,

Karen