We celebrated Thanksgiving this last week, where many people took time to share what they are thankful for. Then we jump right into a season of shopping, plays, parties, more shopping and eating our weight in foods we normally limit our intake of, if not avoid all together! We do all this in the name of Christmas celebration! None of those things are wrong, we just have to try and not let them overshadow the true meaning of Christmas.
Kirk Franklin’s has a song, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. Here is a portion of the lyrics:
I don’t need, material things
All I need, is the love you bring
This holiday, I came to say
That Jesus is, the Only Way!
As adults, many of us have learned it truly is more of a blessing to give then to receive. We especially love to make Christmas or birthdays extremely special for our kids and grand-kids. I read an article the other day that was certainly an eye opener. It said the average child in the developed world owns over 200 toys but only plays with 12 of them on average per day. Even crazier, only 3% of the world’s children live in the US, but they own 40+% of the world’s toys! Sadly, I guess this didn’t really surprise me when my husband and I have attended kid’s birthday parties, where the 8, 9 or 10-year-old would have gifts from 18 to 20 kids that attended along with a dozen or more additional gifts from family members. Seriously we’ve watched as these kids open 30 to 40 gifts in one setting! The article went onto say with all the excess “stuff” we all own, it doesn’t make us happier, healthier or closer to our children. We have and consume twice as many material goods than we collectively did 50 years ago, but statistically we are much less happy. 54% of us report being overwhelmed with clutter and 78% of us have no idea how to overcome it!
The article went onto talk about the positive side of giving “experience gifts”. I love that we are hearing more and more of this. I remember one of the first years our family made a little extra money. Instead of increasing what we bought the kids, we bought a pool table as a family gift that we could all enjoy together. We had a friend that had a big birthday this year and a small group of her close friends took a short road trip together to celebrate. For one friend I got concert tickets to a band we both enjoy. My husband, our 3 sons and I, have all 5 of our birthdays and our anniversary in a 7-week period from mid-summer to late summer. As part of our gift one year we let the 3 boys decide on what our family would do for a 3 day get away. We offered to do 2 days of local theme parks, we offered to go to Chicago or Kansas City, we just said they all had to agree (which could be challenging in itself). They finally came up with camping at a park just under two hours away that had some awesome hiking trails. They were all excited about the decision they made. We were excited it was the cheapest option we gave them! Which brings me to the point that “experience gifts” can create incredible memories, but certainly can be very inexpensive.
In John chapter 13 it says: a new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. In my bible notes it says to love others was not a new commandment, but to love others as much as Christ loved others was revolutionary. Jesus was a living example of God’s love, as we are to be living examples of Jesus’ love!
If we truly believe Jesus is the reason for the season, we may need to tame down some of the excess we have been doing during this season, including the over spending and focus a little more on showing love to those around us! One more nice thing about “experience gifts”, they don’t all have to be done this month, part of the fun can be the anticipation of a fun experience still come!
I would love to hear some of the “experience gifts” you and your friends and family have done or planning to do!