Graciously Getting, Generously Giving (repost)

In a culture that honors Black Friday more than Thanksgiving, it’s easy to get lost in the getting.

Of course, we can say that we’re buying gifts for other people, and we wouldn’t be fibbing. Yet, I wonder if we’re more proud of getting a good deal than we are of giving a thoughtful gift.

What if the recipient of the gift asked, “What made you decide to give this gift to me?”

Perhaps we would betray our love of getting by saying, “Umm…I saw the sale price in the paper and thought of you.”

As parents, we recognize that the holiday season is an opportunity to help our children understand graciously receiving and generously giving. (Click to tweet)

In our family, we’ve established a new tradition — the 25 socks of Christmas. It takes the focus away from a mountain of getting on Christmas day to creating a sustained focus on giving throughout the season. We had a great time with it last year, and this year we’ve determined to be even more purposeful with each day.

Each day, our girls get to take two little slips of paper out of the daily holiday sock. One piece is a get and the other is a give.

The Getting

Some might question our get idea. But I believe this is important for at least two reasons.

  1. We want to reflect the giving heart of our Father to our children. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Our God is a generous giver. If He weren’t, there would be no Christmas. Jesus was the greatest gift of all time.
  2. We want to teach our children how to receive gifts graciously. Parents have to be intentional about training their children to show gratitude. This involves more than a simple “thank you.” Our gratitude should not be reluctant or quickly passing. We want to model and teach our children how to show genuine gratitude. “Thank you so much for this gift. I especially like _________. Thanks for thinking of me.”

The Giving

I can’t imagine many would contest the giving idea, but most of us don’t actually practice it. But giving is an essential part of the training.

  1. We want our children to understand the joy of giving. Acts 20:35 says, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” To experience this joy, it involves encouraging our children to make thoughtful gift choices, think of creative ways to show kindness, and opportunities to give without expectation of receiving anything in return.
  2. We want our children to learn that The Great Commandment applies to everything — even Christmas. Out of love for what God has generously given to us, we want to show love to others by being generous toward them. We don’t want to use and spend all we have. We want to save what we can of our God-given resources in order to be more generous toward others. This applies to purchasing new gifts, giving away personal belongings, and giving of our time.givinggifts

The Sock for Day 8

One of our days occurred during an annual trip to Mimi’s house. Our get was going out to dinner with Mimi and seeing Christmas lights later that night. Sometimes our gets are physical gifts, but we focus primarily on experiences and creating memories.

Our give was going to Mimi’s work at the Salvation Army where 48 children would receive and open Christmas presents while our girls gave time, service, and even some gifts of their own. It was beautiful to see them learning to be joyful with those who are joyful and focusing on other’s needs instead of their wants.

The Contrast

Graciously receiving is a far cry from the greedy stampedes of a Black Friday sale. Generously giving is much more than just dollars and cents. Both require time, thoughtfulness and intentionality.

There will still be times our selfish natures shine through (for parents as well as children!). But we will continue to train our hearts and minds toward developing a gracious and generous spirit. In doing so, we imitate Jesus as our grateful response to the amazing grace and generosity we have received through Him – the One we celebrate on Day 25.

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