Saturday, December 4

Gifts, and stuff

I had a brainwave this morning.

I don't know why this was so revolutionary to me.  It shouldn't have been.

I was thinking about Christmas, about celebrating, about being true to what it's all about (Jesus, in case you weren't sure.  He left Heaven and came down to our messy earth to make it possible for us to be part of returning the world to how it was intended).

Often, that train of thought ends with "we have to do Christmas without presents."  And then I feel like the miserly family member, trying to bring up the "we don't want it to be all about gifts this year..." conversation.

It hit me this morning.  Gifts and stuff are not the same.  We can give gifts without giving stuff.  We can give and give and give without buying, wrapping, accumulating.

Excessive giving doesn't need to be equated with excessive stuff.

What a glorious realization!  What a freedom!

Give!  Give!  Give!

Give because we have received SO much.  Give because our God gave of himself.

Give like he did - to those who needed it the most, to those who will appreciate it the most.

Suddenly giving at Christmas doesn't need to be finding the "right" gift to fit on the blank beside the tricky person to shop for on my list.  Suddenly it doesn't need to be spendingspendingspending to find that thing to put under the tree, that thing that might sit there for a week before we pack up Christmas and find the right corner to put it in, if we don't take it back 'cause it didn't fit.

I read a great idea over at that left me misty eyed and excited.  The writer shared what they do in her family on Christmas morning, without a gift exchange.  They get gift catalogs for various charities, and as a family pick out together the things they will give to those who need them most.  They think about what things they might want if they were in a different situation.

I absolutely love this idea.  I've known for awhile that I've wanted our Christmas not to revolve around gifts, but haven't quite figured out what that looks like, and how to make it fun.

This morning, I realized I do want our Christmas to revolve around gifts.  Great gifts, meaningful gifts, lavish gifts.

Just no stuff, 'k?


  1. Hi Rae,
    What a great post! I found your blog searching the web for alternative giving and clicking on links on sites like and

    I work for an organization called Partners International and we have a charity / alternative giving catalog called Harvest of Hope - - I thought you might be interested to check it out! It's a great way to do what you are talking about. I always enjoy giving a gift certificate to my nephews and then looking through the catalog with them. They get to pick what the donation is redeemed toward. I'm trying to connect more with bloggers like you to help spread the word. Thanks for what you are doing!

  2. Rachel!

    I had been neglecting your blog for awhile and found much to catch up on this morning. I have also been thinking about Christmas and struggling with how to connect the dots to make all the parts of my Christmas more meaningful and more about Jesus (especially the part that involves spending time with my family who only kind of likes the general idea of Jesus). It's definitely tricky but something does seem off in the whole way that we currently celebrate Christmas. There is a growing discontent within me.

    In Advent Conspiracy they talk about 'giving relationally' which is their attempt at breaking the connection between giving and 'stuff'. I was thinking about all of this on my walk to work this morning and trying to figure out how we teach our kids what Christmas is really about. I decided a couple of things. One - I hate Santa. Two - I think it might be okay to talk about Christmas being about giving. As you say, Christmas is about celebrating God's entry into this broken and messed up world... and that's a pretty big deal. We should be moved by that to share generously with others as part of our worship... because as little Ellie says "When we share with others, they get to see that God gives good things".

    I look forward to being in the same place as you and continuing this conversation soon...


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