Thursday, December 20, 2012

It is more blessed to give than to receive (A Hearts at Home Blog Hop)

Bugs Daffy Roadrunner

Today I am participating in The Third Thursday Hearts at Home Blog Hop. Be sure to hope over to Jill Blog to see thoughts other women have to offer on Christmas and giving. What are some ways that you give? Do you have annual traditions? Do you include everyone on your list?

"It is more blessed to give than to receive."
"All I want for Christmas is more, more, more..."

The countdown in our home is 4 days until Christmas Eve. Ours ends a day earlier than most because that is the day our family starts opening presents! Since my dad passed away five years ago, my kids have had a sleepover at my mom's, with their cousins, on Christmas Eve Eve (not a typo). They wake up at her house Christmas Eve morning and receive one present from Grams. Later, when the rest of us arrive, they get a few more gifts from their aunts and uncles but it's nothing crazy.

In the evening, we head over to Rod's mom's to continue the festivities. While the location is slightly different than the original tradition, that gathering still consists of extended family including my late father-in-law's cousins and their children. This is really one of those ideal gatherings with family that is now so rare. The generosity on this night is overwhelming. Everyone gives gifts to children who are high school aged and younger. (I am so grateful that I rarely have to purchase clothing for my kids!)

On Christmas morning, our girls wake up to three gifts under the tree. Early in my parenting, I was given the tip to follow after the gifts the wise men brought. Since Jesus was given three gifts, why not limit theirs to the same number? (It's been a lifesaver to control my spending!)

For brunch, we are back at my mother-in-law's where Santa Grandma never disappoints. The party continues throughout the day with cousins, aunts and uncles. My children know nothing less than walking away with a bounty at Christmas!

I am so incredibly grateful for the generosity of others. Truly, I am. That being said, it can be a little difficult to teach my children that giving really is more blessed than receiving. Especially when their Christmas mindset is a little more like Daffy Duck's. While I desperately want to embrace the philosophy of living with less, it truly is a challenge.

Sponsoring children through Compassion has helped extend our children's world. We even have the kids shop and fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. It is normal that we give to family and friends. In our home, I do my best to cultivate a spirit of giving as well as gratitude. It's a struggle. I want them to feel normal. Anticipation of receiving presents, especially at Christmas (and birthdays), is fun and exciting. Not to mention, one of my love languages has always strongly been that of gifts. I struggle each day over how much is too much. When I read Ann Voskamp's post on Christmas in their household, I really struggle with the possibility that I've just got it all wrong.

Here is one thing I know: An attitude of giving is instilled in our children as they witness our demonstration of generosity. This year, we set out to build new holiday traditions. We began by going downtown Chicago for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. While we cannot even begin to fill every need in the city, my husband and I were certain we could bring a smile to a few faces.

When our church filled bags last year to pass out to the homeless, it changed me. I'm the kind of person who walks past those begging, averting my eyes and guarding my wallet. Without good reason. I can justify up and down how I don't want to support additions and so on. That doesn't change the truth of my husband's words, "No one says, 'When I grow up, I want to be homeless'." With a few McDonald's gift cards in hand, we set out to live life differently.

As we walked around enjoying the holiday decorations, opportunities to share our plenty with those in need were abundant. My oldest now thinks doing magic tricks on a street corner is something to aspire to. While our youngest saw the balloon animal as a must have, we saw an opportunity for giving. Even though our middle daughter has difficulty looking people in the eyes, we are hopeful that she will lift her head long enough to an awareness of those in need. The smiles we received from a few random acts of kindness we extended to a choice few has changed me.

It's not like I feel the need to give money to the Salvation Army every time we enter or exit a store this time of year. They are simply a reminder to me that others are in need. We gift because we were given the greatest gift of all and we want to share Jesus with others. My prayer is to implement a spirit of giving not just at Christmastime but our whole life long.

"Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. ” - Luke 6:38




  1. Smiling about your wise men gifts- I, too, was given such sage advice years ago. It sure keeps me focused as I shop for our kids. Merry Christmas!

  2. It sounds like you have a great balance! Love your insight!:)

  3. Thanks for sharing~ sounds like you have some great things in place! I love the idea of handing out gift cards. We have lots of friends in the homeless community, and that is so special to them. Even more special is just the act of being seen... I agree with you that it's hard to find a balance, but it sounds like you're doing a great job!

  4. I agree that the three gifts on Christmas was the best advice I received about Christmas with young ones. I loved yur thoughts-- I can completely relate to the gratitude I feel over everything my kids receive, but also the guilt of them having the "Daffy Duck" mindset. I just read an article (can't remember the author!) that talked about allowing our kids the joy that receiving gifts brings. This has helped me ease up on the guilt trips I give myself over their Daffy Duck moments! Have a wonderful Christmas Eve Eve, Christmas Eve and Christmas!:)