By Ron Dorner
We are fast approaching that special time of year-Christmas. The decorations, family get-to-gathers, and gift-giving can be so exciting. But for many people, this Christmas may not be like those in the past. The economy is forcing some to re-think the traditions that have come to be associated with Christmas.
A generation or so ago, most Christians in the U.S. enjoyed great Christmas times despite a lack of monetary resources. By making a concerted effort to place the focus on Jesus Christ and celebrate His birth, Christians of this day may be able to return to those simpler times. The expensive portion of Christmas is minimized with the objective of making Christ the center of gift giving. Why not make it a family project to give a significant gift to Christ this Christmas?
The notion of family gift-giving seems to be lost to our culture. Adults continue to buy gifts they cannot afford for each other, gifts that remain unused or are returned eventually. This type of giving displays a minimal amount of love. Adults, instead, should be able to give gifts that say, “You are special and I offer you this gift of my work and/or time.” Gifts like babysitting, baked goods, a piece of handmade furniture, etc., show love. It has more memories attached than the conventional gift card, shirt, sweater, or book. If the number of individuals one buys for is significant, try exchanging names. This will allow more time to consider the gift creatively and complete the project.
Children have come to expect to be the center of attention at Christmas. While it is appropriate to give gifts to children and grandchildren at Christmas, it should not be done at the expense of wrecking the family budget. The more Christmas plans focus on Christ, family outings, and holiday games, the less importance gifts have to children. For children, the concentrated time with the whole family (investing in creative activities like cookie making, winter outings, fireside game times, etc.) is what will last in their memories. The two-story doll house with furniture will be long forgotten, but the Christmas that Uncle Jim mowed down the hot chocolate stand while ice skating will not.
Start making your Christmas plans directly after Thanksgiving. Make the Christmas celebration unique this year. Don’t just go to the church Christmas program – be a part of it. Make a reasonable budget and stick to it. String popcorn and decorate the tree or mantle with it. Create Christmas games for the kids. Play a mystery game of presenting a gift every evening before Christmas. Any of these pastimes can even be fun for adults, too.
Keep Christ in Christmas; after all it is His birthday.
Ron Dorner is director of Biblical Money Management. BMM has been helping believers handle their finances and estate planning since 1984. Online counseling is available at www.BiblicalMoneyManagement.com.