Relational Giving

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There are 84 days until Christmas. Does that number fill you with dread thinking of all that has to be done? Joy at the thought of Our Lord”s arrival in splendor? Perhaps a bit of both? I am a planner. Usully by this point in the year, I have my annual Christmas spreadsheet up and running, complete with ideas, budget and size information for friends and family who receive gifts. One of my main love languages is “gift giving”, so Christmas is for me, one big love-a-thon, where I spend a lot of time and energy selecting what I hope will be a great gift for those I love. However, the idea of a “perfect Christmas” continues to elude me, thus I strive more and more to select gifts that demonstrate my love.

This year our family has been trying to live more simply, get by with less, and focus more on relationships. Naturally, I want this simplicity to be part of our Christmas gift giving as well.

How do we do Christmas without diving head-first into the kind of materalism which promises that happiness lies in one more gift, rather than the One True Gift? To be honest, I love the idea of scaling back and giving more intentionally, but as they say, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. It only takes one sniff of the pine-wreath-cinnamon-stick-Christmastime-is-here atmosphere that the stores are drenched in for me to be sucked right in. How many years had I spent more time shopping and agonizing over gifts during Advent than praying and preparing my heart for the precious gift of Jesus? “Not this year!”, she said to nbso online casino reviews herself with determination.

How can we resist the mall and its siren song of more, more, more? Is there a way to give more intentionally, and fully? How can our family give gifts that deepen relationships and not debt?

I needed a battle plan, so of course I turned to the internet. Lo and behold, there are a plethora of “alternatives” to spending all of Advent in the mall rather than in prayer. In the hopes they might do someone some good, I present my findings to you all on doing Christmas with intentionality and love.

1. Made with love.
Homemade gifts, of course! The possibilities are basically endless, but some of my favorite homemade gifts are crafts, food, and photos.

For those of you crafty folks out there, Ravelry is a great website with patterns (mostly free) for knit and crochet.

Organized Christmas is a great website if you, like me, are a nerd who loves to plan for the holidays in great detail. They also have a lot of homemade gift ideas, including many that use canning jars as a basis. My favorite idea is the recipe in a jar.

Photo gifts are also great, and can be inexpensive if you get a coupon code. Shutterfly is a great place to order photo gifts like calendars, mugs, photo books and more.

2. Make an Offering.

One of the most beautiful Christmas gifts I”ve given, or recieved has been gifts to charity in my name. Particularly gifts which help those living in extreme poverty in developing nations to achieve self-sufficency.

World Vision, which is a Christian (but not Catholic) organization has a “gift catalogue” in which you can choose a gift in any price (ranging from $5-5,000 dollars). The gifts are also by category. You can give a gift of $25 which helps children have access to Bibles, or sports equipment, or school supplies. There are gifts which give medicine, food, education, and tools for starting a small business.

What a beautiful gift to give someone who “has everything”, which let”s face it, is most of us.

Catholic Near East Welfare Association is another great charity that allows you to choose a gift based on price or cause. CNEWA is the Vatican”s own relief organization.

Advent Conspriracy is another organization which is working with churches, families, and individuals in order to provide fresh water to people around the world who go without.

When you stop and think about it, you realize that you can give someone their tenth sweater, or give someone else safe drinking water in their name, it becomes no contest.

3. Give Presence.

What the people we love really want, is us. They want us to make a gift of ourselves to them. Time really is the most coveted gift.
Christ gave himself freely for us, because of His deep love. He invites us to do the same. What better way than by freeing up our time (by doing less shopping), and spending more time with the ones we love. We can imitate His gift by offering gifts made with love, intentionality, and offered to deepen our relationships with others.

When we buy less, and give more, perhaps then we can be free to worship more fully. I can”t wait to find out!

Sarah Babbs

Sarah Babbs

Sarah Babbs is a married mother of a toddler girl, writing from Indiana where she moved for love after growing up on the east coast. Sarah and her husband, a lawyer, lead marriage prep classes for their parish in addition to daydreaming about becoming lunatic farmers. During stolen moments when the toddler sleeps and the laundry multiplies itself, Sarah writes about motherhood, Catholic social thought, and ponders the meaning of being a woman "made in the image of God". Her website is Fumbling Toward Grace.

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6 Responses

  1. This is a great list! Although I’ve never taken one of those love language evaluations, I’m pretty sure gift giving is at the bottom of my results. 🙂 I would so much rather have items 2 and 3 above.

  2. Love that you’re putting so much thought in to it all! I’m doing a round of hand made gifts as well – the hubby and kid always get something each year and I rotate everyone else from year to year. We’re doing a lot of gifts that can be shared with each other via family time – we’re update some of our favorite Disney movies and musicals on to DVD and maybe some books, etc. But other than that we’re keeping it simple.

    Do you think it’s going to be hard sticking to it all with the new little one – that’s the one thing I’m worried about is being flooded with gifts for the kid that we don’t need.

  3. Your post is what we need to hear everyday. The shop, shop, shop message we hear is toxic. And way to expensive for the pocketbook and not good for the environment.
    Give your presence, not presents.

  4. Great suggestions. Along the lines of #3, I sometimes like to give gifts that will allow me to spend time with the person, but also involve something they like. One of my aunts adores the movie The Wizard of Oz, and also is a musician who loves orchestras. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra was playing the soundtrack to The Wizard in a live concert. I got both of us tickets as her Christmas present two years ago, and she loved it!

  5. Absolutely!!! And thanks for posting about this so early in the season – usually I see something like this after I’ve already dropped a bunch of cash trying to buy perfect things for everyone. This gives me a chance to be a little more intentional! 🙂

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