Now that it’s getting closer to Luke’s first birthday (OH MY GOODNESS!), we are starting to have conversations with some of his grandparents about gifts. We totally understand that you can’t steal the joy of a grandparent who wants to spoil his/her grandchild, but we also don’t want to have a house full of toys or a completely overly spoiled child either. Keeping all of that in mind, Mason and I have discussed a lot about our ideas for gifts for Luke when it comes to birthdays, Christmas, and even other holidays like Easter and such.
“Gifts” is my primary love language. I get so much joy out of figuring out the most perfect gift for a person and watching them delight in receiving the gift. Don’t get me wrong, I love receiving a thoughtful gift, too, but I love nothing more than giving a gift to someone I love. Many times I plan gifts months in advance, and I’ve also been known to enlist the help of other people in pulling off the gift-giving. Some of my favorite gifts have been to Mason – a surprise trip to Charleston, his new guitar, a piloting lesson, and most recently, his ordination stole made from Luke’s baptismal gown. Now that I have Luke, this takes the joy of gift-giving to a whole new level.
“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17
I had wonderful conversation with a former youth the other day in which we talked about the abundant grace of God and how although God owes us nothing, God generously gives us everything. We talked about living lives that are deserving of such generosity, and how it’s nearly impossible since we are such broken humans…we always seem to want more than we are given. It’s so hard to live a deserving life when God gives to us despite our deserving. So, recognizing the good and perfect gifts that come from above, we live lives of gratitude meaning that we try our best to remember Grace in everything that we do and in everyone that we see. Yes, it’s hard to do, and I know that I have lots of work that I need to do.
I think that the joy I feel in knowing how much God loves me, even when I don’t reciprocate, and how gracious God is to me is where I find the joy to share with others through gifts. No gift that I can or will give compares to the gifts of God, but knowing how much I delight in sharing joy with others seemingly allows me to glimpse the joy God has in giving to God’s children. I also recognize that the life of a child of God, despite being an heir, is not about giving and receiving gifts. It’s about accepting what is given to us, respecting and receiving the abundant love, serving others and working for justice all to share a piece of the love God gives to us in Jesus Christ.
While gifts are hugely important to me and my understanding of love and my sharing of love, we don’t want gifts to be the only way that Luke experiences love. I’ve seen first-hand family and friends who make gift-giving their way of showing love…the bigger the gift the more they love, I guess. I don’t want Luke, or any other children and family members, thinking that our love for him is based on the size or type of gift that we give him, because that’s most certainly not the case! Mason and I have talked and heard a few ideas from friends about how they handle gifts for their children, especially where family is concerned. We’ve decided on two different approaches for our children, one for birthdays and other holidays and one for Christmas. I know that it’s going to be hard some times, especially since I’ve always associated a Christmas tree full of presents with my sharing love with others, but I’m choosing to focus on the everyday gifts of love that I give to Luke, and my husband for that matter, rather than the big holidays. It’s my biggest hope that when I’m no longer around, Luke understands how much I (we) love him each and every day, not just in the gifts I (we) give him on holidays.
How we’re choosing to give gifts to Luke, and how we’ve asked the grandparents (and aunts/uncles) to gift as well:
- Memories. More than something tangible, we’d love to have ways of making memories with Luke. Gifts would ideally help create a memory for him, and not just be a temporary something that he’d stop enjoying in a short period of time.
- Events. This goes along with memories. How about look at ways we can create memorable events in Luke’s life – trips, camps, special time with family, festivals/fairs, etc.
- Personal. Our goal is to always give something of meaning to Luke, not to us. Just because we want him to have something doesn’t mean it’s a good gift for him. I want to try and give personal gifts to Luke when we do give him tangible gifts, meaning we have to really know him and know what he’d love in order to bring him true joy in the gift.
- College/Bank Accounts. We set up a college fund for Luke when he was born, so rather than toys, if we feel a need to buy him something, we will put the money into his bank or college accounts instead. Those will be more useful for him than something that will eventually break or end up in a yard sale.
- Gold/Frankincense/Myrrh – 3 Gifts. For Christmas we’re trying to stick with the “3 gifts” rule for Luke. Jesus was given 3 gift by the Magi when they visited, so Luke only needs 3 gifts as well. This helps us stay within budget for Christmas spending, but also encourages us to think more creatively about experiences/memories that we can create for him as well.
The decisions are not so much about rules and restrictions, but reassessment of the purpose of giving gifts. Why do we give gifts? Why do we place such an emphasis on finding the “perfect” gift for someone? What is the source of this desire and love? And can we share it with the one receiving the gift in another way than something tangible? First and foremost, I have to consider all of this myself.
What are some of your favorite gifts you’ve either given or received?
Who gave it to you and what made it so special?