In keeping with the theme of giving thanks, and with Christmas just around the corner, I’ve been thinking about giving gifts.
There are so many factors to consider. How much is appropriate to spend? Who is in the circle of close family and friends that should receive a gift? How to decide on something the person will actually like?
My husband and I have a general agreement not to get gifts for one another. That may sound terrible, but here’s why. We don’t want to put pressure on each other to “find the perfect gift” and then worry about disappointing each other. We don’t want to waste our money on gifts that society pushes us to buy if they’re not things we truly want. We don’t believe that we need to get expensive or even special gifts to prove our love. And most importantly, we would rather spend money that would have gone toward gifts on nice dinners out together. We go on dates to interesting places for Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries. We have delicious food and sweet conversation and time together.
For the two of us, this arrangement works out perfectly. However, it can be much trickier to convince others that we don’t need presents. There are work gift exchanges, friends who might just enjoy buying gifts for us, family members who choose gifts for us that have certain significance.
We love our friends and family. Naturally, we appreciate it when they put in the time, effort, and money to give us gifts. But we hope they never feel that they need to get us things for us to love them. And perhaps we feel a little bit pressured to return that kindness by getting them gifts, too.
The key is to be gracious, whether as a giver or a receiver. We need to accept gifts from our loved ones, just as we accept God’s gifts to us. Jesus offered up his life for me, and gives me hope and joy and forgiveness. At times, God even gives me trials, and those are still blessings. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17). Let me not refuse any of these blessings.