This time of year, my front porch collects boxes from Amazon, Toys R Us, American Girl and Target. I love to hear the doorbell ring and spy the UPS truck pulling away, leaving behind super saver deals scored with coupon codes plus free shipping, oh yeah. When I slice into that packing tape and uncover the Calico Critters, the Matchbox tower, Bitty Twins in the flesh—happy squeals erupt from my throat. Eeeek! The girls are going to LOVE this!
And I love my girls. Tremendously. So compared to my usual frugal self, I go a little crazy at Christmas time. Momma Claus buys a sleigh full of presents.
Is that so wrong?
I’ve grappled with this question. And I’ve decided—no.
Of course Christmas isn’t about material things. Jesus was born to redeem the world, not Kohl’s cash. Our family celebrates the season with praise music and nativity sets and a birthday cake for Jesus. I donate old toys to charity in order to make room for new ones and set my daughters on my lap for heart-to-heart discussions about selflessness and generosity. We put those words into action when we give to Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army.
And then, in the early morning of December 25, I spoil my kids silly with stacks of shiny gifts. Why? Because they’re my children, the special people God entrusted to my care. They’re the ones I scold and discipline, nurture and instruct; whose tears I wipe dry, whose hands I squeeze, and whose hearts I protect and know better than my own. Once a year I delight in showering them with presents unearned, because gifts are an act of love, and love is in itself a gift to and from God.
He is no stranger to gift giving.
“For God so loved the word that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).
This Christmas, let’s shed the guilt associated with presents—no matter how many you can afford or choose to give—and focus on the purpose of giving in the first place. Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Our birthday gift to Jesus is love. One of the ways we show love is by giving gifts. So I will not apologize for giving in abundance, nor will I feel ashamed when my budget is slim. Because the point of Christmas is not the quantity of gifts. What matters is the unconditional love wrapped inside them.
Which brings me back to all those boxes on my porch. Competition will be stiff this year for the favorite toy in the pile—will it be the doll desks, the Nerf guns, the big bin of dinosaurs? I’m excited to find out. Yet I know the greatest gift of all is one I cannot buy, and it’s not mine to give—it’s God’s.
He gives us the gift of Jesus.
If our children accept that gift, all of our sparkling packages are just icing on the birthday cake. Which, by the way, my family eats for breakfast Christmas morning. Like I said, spoiled silly. And I love it.