We are a blended family and most of our children are young adults. My partner's daughter, 27, with her own 4 year old, announced this year that she wasn't doing Christmas presents. Her father and I started thinking in terms of supporting her by minimizing our present giving behavior and also concealing it "so she wouldn't feel bad.". Then my 25 year old and 21 year old launched into their gift list, finding out what their 12 year old brother and us parents wanted, and pinpointing what would be welcome in their lives. Practical young people, this amounted to each person listing what they needed anyway and exchanging wrapped boxes rather than each just buying things for themselves. Last night my partner got a call from his daughter finding out what everyone wanted, and I felt better about my guiltily purchased and wrapped presents for her and the grandson. (The twelve year old decided to write a book and give a copy of it to each member of the family, retaining his Christmas money for taking us all out to movies and buying more legos for himself.) Lately I see things in terms of "acting out your commitment" and "every action, however pragmatic, being a symbol for your commitment" such that $1 given to save the wolves or feed the hungry is infinitely more powerful than nothing, in the life of the giver. In my view the symbolic act of thinking about each other and wrapping the presents for each other and giving them to each other and hoping the person is pleased and delighted... the INTENTION of giving, is very very important between families and communities. I do not see how it really detracts from anyone's relationship to Christ. I do agree if it's all about Getting, and the birthday of Christ gets sidelined in a commercial splorgy, how it can be detrimental. Balance in all things.
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