Wishes are being made and Christmas lists contemplated with deep concentration. I know from my experience, Christmas shopping can be extremely stressful. When you have an abundance of children and grandchildren, the costs of gift giving can tip your budget over the edge.
I have many friends who are gifted in making homemade gifts. Some crochet beautiful caps, shawls, mittens and more. Others spend precious time and patience smocking or embroidering special gifts for their loved ones. My son, Ahmed, and my sweet daughter-in-law, Addie, made home-grown pickled peppers in ornamental containers last year. They also made hot cocoa or cookie mixes as gifts. Those kinds of gifts are given with love and should be treasured.
When I think back over past Christmases, I remember all the toys and clothes that were broken, discarded or forgotten about by the end of January. As parents and grandparents, we never want our children to be without popular toys or brand-name clothing, but that is where common sense should take over and a budget be considered.
A new trend many parents are following is the four-gift challenge. I love this idea. The four gift rule/challenge is to buy something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. It is easier to follow the rule if you start when your children are young. I didn’t use this wonderful idea with my children. I wish I had. There would be more in our savings and less to pick up and clean through the years.
With the bombardment of television commercials, internet ads and other types of sales pitches to create the desire for material items, many children and teens are becoming materialistic. Almost every teen wants the latest cell phone, electronic gadget or game system. I see more clearly now that I am older, kids do not have to have everything everyone else has.
There are many things I should have done to inspire more compassion, understanding a budget and being thankful for the small stuff. Mission trips are a great way to guide a child into seeing others through love and kindness. Seeing how others live without all the things we take for granted can be a real eye-opener. Another great example of giving to others is to adopt an angel from an angel tree or find someone local who doesn’t have the ability to provide the little extras that Christmas cheer can bring.
Christmas spending does not need to put you in debt for months after the holidays are over. Stick with your budgeted amount and find other ways to give that isn’t costly but comes from your heart. A tray of homemade cookies, loaf of homemade bread, jars of homemade jam are great gifts. which will be appreciated.
Of course, young children and teenagers might not appreciate homemade goodies. Choosing an appropriate book for their age is a great way to keep the love of reading alive. Many children read books through their iPads or cell phones. A gift card for books they can download to their electronic device is a good choice.
Allow Christmas to be about Jesus. Give gifts to those you love but remember to give only what you can afford to give. Stick with your budget and put thought into each gift. We can all try to move away from being so materialistic. Jesus is the reason for the season, not Macy’s or Walmart’s special deals of the day. Shop smart. love deeply and be blessed.
Brenda Daher is editor of The Baldwyn News.