Listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies gave me the idea to write about the topic of Giving. We often hear that ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ and this is true. God “gifted” his only son to save us and thus the tradition of giving was created. Even though December 25th is not in the Bible and the traditions of the holiday are mixed with religious and pagan rituals, you must admit that no matter what your belief system is, Christmas is a magical time of year. The lights, decorations, the music … it can sweep you up in the moment, but it should not sweep you into debt or stress to have the “perfect” holiday.
We need to go back to basics and teach our children that even though it is fun to receive gifts, we really should be focused on giving. Some simple ideas are to go through your clothes and toys and donate to those less fortunate. Donate canned goods to your local food pantry or church. PLUS it gets your house ready for new items that you will be bringing in this holiday season, so it is a win-win.
Jo Cutler, PhD, shares that research shows that the act of giving presents a warm fuzzy feeling or “warm glow” in the neural basis of the brain. The study found that giving activates the regions of the brain involved in processing rewards. For example, the same regions are active during donating as during receiving money, eating nice food, and taking addictive drugs. You can read the whole article online at

For large families and as families grow, rather than everyone buying gifts for everyone … try just buying gifts for the kids in the family, or if they are older kids, then play games like The White Elephant Gift Exchange where you can “steal” gifts from each other or simply pick names for Secret Santa to cut down on the cost. These fun games/exchanges will create memories that will last much longer than another dumb tie that will eventually be donated to the local Goodwill.
Honestly, I have tried to stay away from the corny Christmas movies, but I just can’t help myself. I think I was watching “A Prince For Christmas” … I know, I know … it was a cute movie and I learned a great idea. The main character shared that her grandmother told her to always give someone two gifts — one gift for the person you are giving to enjoy, the other gift for that person to give to someone else to enjoy. They would know who needed that gift at the right time. I think this is so profound and so easy to do. Remember, giving is not about how much things cost, but the thought behind the giving. Whether it is cookies beautifully wrapped, a small trinket from your personal collection, or just something you know the other person will like. Gift giving should be fun and personal.
As Steve Proctor from shares…”gift giving should be a source of joy for the person giving the gift as well as the receiver.” To help you understand his outlook on gift giving, here are a few of the insights he has gained over the years. 1. One holiday when his daughter got a number of gifts that were appropriate for her age, her greatest joy was tearing open the wrapping paper and throwing it in the air. Nothing else seemed to matter. The lesson learned – the anticipation and excitement of receiving a gift often transcends the value of the gift that is given. 2. Another time he bought his son a bull whip. This gift is still recalled by his family under the general heading of “It seemed like a good idea at the time”. The lesson learned – when selecting a gift, it is always a good move to get another opinion prior to the purchase. 3. When his 7-year-old grandson received gifts, where there were a number of gifts given – several of them relatively expensive and educational in nature. Of the many gifts opened at that time, the one that was the hit of the evening was the least expensive of all of the gifts given to him – a Whoopee cushion. If you know anything about the humor of a 7-year-old boy, this was not a big surprise. The lesson learned – a gift does not have to be expensive to be truly appreciated. 4. Some gifts that initially appear to be odd can be the best gifts ever. A number of years ago he gave his mom a Christmas gift that may be her favorite of all time – a headstone. His great-grandfather, who had played a large role in his Mom’s life as a young child, had been buried without a grave marker because the family was too poor to afford a headstone when he died. She worried about this and his legacy, so after locating his exact burial place, her son and his siblings were able to purchase and place a headstone to mark his grave. The visit to the cemetery to see his Mom’s Christmas gift remains one of his fondest memories. The lesson learned – The best gifts often meet an emotional and practical need. And Last but certainly not least. 5. One year for Christmas he gave his wife of 40 years a gift that may have been the least expensive of their entire married life – a collection of the poetry that he had written for her over about a 15-year period. The book itself is not very impressive. Anyone else reading the verses contained on those pages may not grasp the impact of a love story chronicled in such a way. But his wife can recall the specific experience that inspired each piece. The lesson learned – the most treasured gifts often cost more in terms of time and less in terms of money.
As Steve Proctor states, “Some gifts go out of fashion … Whenever I think of giving a gift, I think about its immediate impact and long-term value. Based on my experience the best gift you can give is usually something that strengthens the bond between the giver and the receiver of the gift. If you can find such a gift, it will be genuinely appreciated and retain its’ value in the eyes of the receiver.”
I have always believed that people won’t remember what you said to them or how much you spent on them, but they will remember how you made them feel. So if you do anything new this holiday season, show and give kindness, it’s free and it will last longer.
To come full circle, I can’t agree with Mr. Proctor more. “Finally, I think it is easier to get into the gift giving spirit when we realize that we have been given so much, and that all of life is a gift from God. James 1:17 tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights”. Gift giving comes more naturally to those who understand that they have been the recipients of such undeserved generosity.”
Merry Christmas and happy gift giving! I would love to hear about your holiday gift giving stories and adventures!
Here are some resources on the topic that you may find helpful:
“Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we …
“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occ…
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