The Greatest Gifts

IT’S DECEMBER! It’s that month of the year where you can sing a whole genre of music without getting weird looks, find the perfect gifts for the people you love, wear bells, get bundled up in your winter clothes and oh yeah, and calories don’t count either, right?

I LOVE Christmas…I always have. When I was in school I would get as many presents for people as I could and for my guy friends, I would make a massive amount of cookies and give them to pretty much everyone. We would make cookies for the fire department, too. My mom was always easy to shop for and there is always a ton to get her that she will love. Dad on the other hand was trickier – but that made the challenge even more fun and the reward of finding a great present even more fulfilling! Even to this day I try to live within my budget but at Christmas all bets are off…the perfect gift is the perfect gift, you know? I don’t have kids yet but I am happy a lot of my friends do so I can spoil them, too :)

For me the biggest personal joy in Christmas is giving gifts. Every December I choose a night where I get out all the wrapping, light some holiday candles, make Velveeta mac and cheese and watch Home Alone 1 & 2 and wrap presents. It sounds so silly but I LOVE it and I look forward to it every year. I still have a few gifts left to get but I am thinking next week this is happening. I think what I love so much about gift giving is the personal connection. Ideally, I don’t like getting someone something generic like a gift card (unless of course that is what they really want!). I like finding something unique that fits their personality and, in a dream world, something they didn’t even know they wanted or existed.

Believe it or not, giving gifts at Christmas is biblical. In Matthew 2:11, the Bible talks about the gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus: “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” A lot of scholars and historians believe this is where the idea of gift giving at Christmas came from. While we now give wrapped gifts to each other and not directly to Jesus on Christmas morning, the idea of giving something valuable to someone else with nothing expected in return is totally blessed by God, in my opinion. It takes sacrifice – time, money, planning – to find the right gift but the joy in doing so is a reward that money can’t buy.

You may already know there is a lot in the Bible about being generous to others but this also can apply to giving gifts. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” while Luke 6:38 adds, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Now…you may not have a job yet that gives you money that you can spend on Christmas gifts or maybe you have a limited budget. And that’s OK! You can still be a great gift giver. Here are some ideas I have used before that cost hardly anything:

– Cookies! Yeah, you have to buy ingredients but for not a lot of money, you can find some recipes online, make a LOT of cookies, get some festive plates and plastic wrap, and oui la, you have made a lot of tummies very happy!

– Coupons! Either handwritten or typed up, make some coupon vouchers for other people to use of stuff you will do. For example: for your mom, make a coupon that she can “redeem” for a week of you doing the laundry. Maybe for your little sister, a “sister night” where you guys make popcorn, and watch a movie, turn off cellphones and just hang out. I LOVE coupons and even now still give them to people I can’t find the right present for.

– Crafts! PINTEREST, baby. Some of you younger ladies have no idea what life was like before Pinterest but I do! Now there are so many ideas for creative, inexpensive gifts on Pinterest. If you have a little bit of money to spend, you can get things at craft stores that make a ton of gifts for not a lot of money – jewelry, homemade cards, decorations. You can also use stuff you find outside! One gift my mom gave a bunch of people a few years ago was a glass jar with sand and rocks from our local lake beach and just a little blue votive candle on top. So basic yet I still have it to this day because it is a little piece of home I have taken with me whenever I move somewhere new.

– Time! This kind of goes along with the coupon idea, but you don’t even need to make it official. Go out of your way to spend time with someone. Maybe sit with someone at lunch who you don’t normally sit with. After school ask one of your teachers about her family or Christmas plans. If you live close enough, go hang out with your grandma for an afternoon.

The best gift you can give anyone this time of year is your heart. Putting time into something is often way more valuable than spending a lot of money. Anyone can spend money but not everyone is willing to actually give their time or their help to someone. Have you ever given someone the perfect gift? When you see their face light up, they don’t even realize that they are giving you a gift in return: the gift of significance. You matter to them. You did something that brightened their day and they are thankful for that- and you. That right there is love. And love is 100% what this Christmas season is about.

#journaljourney: Make a list of all the people you want to get gifts for. Who do you want to buy something for? How much do you want to spend? Who can you make something for? Just doing this will get you super excited for the gift giving process. Don’t forget when you do give the gifts out to write about their reactions and how it made you feel.

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