A few years ago Anna and I really started to rethink Christmas as a family. We had outdone ourselves buying presents in years past and wanted to be able to enjoy the season without dreading the financial aftermath. But so much more than that, we wanted to attach a true spiritual meaning to the holidays and keep the focus purely on Jesus. That was when my wife Anna came across a Biblical idea which takes the focus off consumerism and we have been loving it as a family ever since.
When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11)
In Matthew 2:10-11, we see the joyous Wiseman bring their 3 gifts to Jesus. We have chosen to take this as the template for our gift giving and to show you how far we take it, we actually label the tags gold, frankincense, and myrrh. You see, we have studied the Biblical value of what each of these gifts meant and now give our gifts with there importance in mind. Here is how we plan our holiday gift-giving:
- Gold was, and is, a symbol of extravagance so we buy our boys a “want item.” We shop around (and we shop hard) to find the best deal we can to get them something that tops their “most wanted” list. In years past a bike, a sled, hockey skates, or a video game has found its way under our tree. These are the fun gifts that make the kids eyes light up.
- Frankincense was a gift of great spiritual importance. It was burned on the altar in the temple and was part of numerous ceremonies for the Hebrew people. In the same way, we have focused on the second gift being a spiritual gift. In years past, our children have received age appropriate Bibles, Christian music they enjoy, and gifts given on their behalf around the world through World Vision. One year we actually commissioned a good friend who is a gifted artist to create poster size pictures of them dressed in full Roman armor with the text from Ephesians 6 in script down the side. Each one of these gifts is carefully explained and we try to create a time of Biblical learning in the midst of the unwrapping chaos.
- Myrrh was a highly practical gift for Jesus and would be used in preparing His body for burial, foreshadowing His death and resurrection some years later. It was a common part of the burial process in ancient times and was considered a absolute necessity. In the same way, we use the third gift to find something that our children actually need. Warm outdoor clothes (living in frigid Northern Ontario these are highly necessary) or something else that is a day to day necessity is wrapped up and given to the boys. While not the stuff that dreams are made of, they are learning to appreciate that sometimes good gifts are highly practical.
- Finally, when we give gifts, we be sure follow the model of Jesus (who gave the greatest gift of all to us – the gift of Himself). We keep Him first and foremost in all our festivities.
We have greatly enjoyed our new approach to Christmas and we hope you might consider approaching the holidays this way too. As a Dad, a few years back, I remember asking our oldest Josiah what we had given him the last couple of years and out of 6 items, he could remember 2. But when I asked him about a family trip we had taken years before, he could remember in vivid detail many of the experiences we shared. To that end, every Christmas, we focus on the wonderful memories of time spent together serving, living, laughing, and loving as opposed to keeping the focus solely on gifts. You see, gifts will come and go, but the significance of the season, both Biblically and relationally is so important. Therefore, I urge to to consider… what will you do this holiday season – will you rethink Christmas and your gift-giving as well?