Stressed about Christmas shopping? Try this with the family.

I hate shopping.  Malls overwhelm me.  Department stores suffocate me.  I try to shop as much as I can online.  Heidi hates shopping about as much as I do.  I’d prefer cleaning bathrooms.  Heidi would rather rake leaves.  So what did we do with Christmas?  It was a struggle for a long time.  A lot of stress, worry, fear of failure.  A lot of ought’s and have to’s.  Little giving from the heart.  So several years ago, Heidi came up with an idea.  Let’s cut back on the gifts in our family and use the money for a trip together.

It was brilliant.  Everybody got a couple of gifts they really needed.  No more stuff.  No more catering to materialistic social pressure.  As a bonus, Heidi and I felt the stress meter drop.  Christmas became quieter, more enjoyable.  But the biggest present of all was what the trips did.  We were together for a few days doing something we would have never done before.  And we even did it in an inexpensive way.

One year we got cheap plane tickets to Chicago and saw Wicked on stage.  Last year we got a holiday special at the Opryland Hotel here in Nashville, meandered in awe through the gardens, and shivered in amazement through the ice exhibit.  This year we just returned from two nights at a cabin in Pickett State Park, TN.  No cell phone or internet service.  We hiked fascinating trails, viewed incredible rock formations, and watched movies at night.

Guess what we talk about each Christmas now?  The presents we got the year before? That memory is buried or lost.  We just remember the trips together.  It is the gift that keeps on giving.

Here’s one more idea I came up with last year.  I put some money in an envelope and stuck it on the tree.  Then we spent time as a family on Christmas Day figuring out which organizations to support and how much to give to each one.  It was fun.  And freeing. When Jesus said that it was more blessed to give than to receive, it’s not just a nice slogan.  He meant it.

So if you don’t like the way your family does Christmas, take a risk and do something different.  Try what I have suggested or come up with your own.  The worst you can do is fail.  The best?  Your family feels a glimmer of that joy everyone is searching for at Christmas.

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About Coach D

I have been a teacher and a coach for many years. My real name is Bill Delvaux, but my students call me Coach D, hence the user name. This blog is about the journey into the unknown I am walking and the landmarks I am navigating along the way. The destination: becoming who I really am as a man. I invite you to join me by reading along every Monday and Thursday.
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4 Responses to Stressed about Christmas shopping? Try this with the family.

  1. I really WANT to comment.And I mean honestly comment.For years as a true professed
    Believer in our Lord and the awe of His Advent, I would watch the worldly humanism swallow Christmas ( as I simply observed ). What do we spend here? If 1 gift is good then 5 must better.
    He brought this to the house so last minute reciprocation. Etc Etc Etc
    Please know that showing love at Christmas to another reflects God love for us.But as this blog
    says “Do we accomodate the World or show our difference?” What would the Holy One desire
    of us? some meditation is in order

    • Coach D says:

      Rick,
      So much of coming alive in Christ is jettisoning everything that feels like a duty or a compulsion or mere social compliance. We quit living to look OK. We quit living to stay in the norm. We quit living by what is expected of us. Why is this necessary? Because often what is OK or in the norm or in the expected is a product of this world, and the world is screwed up. When we follow Jesus here instead, he will always lead us beyond duty into delight, beyond compulsion into freedom, beyond compliance into the extraordinary. We need to do this here, now, at Christmas especially.

  2. Johnny Orr says:

    Bill, This year, for the first year our only child is away (he lives in Arlinton, VA) and could not get home and Mary & I thought we should have done the same thing you and Heidi did. We may do it next year.
    Loved your idea about the money on the tree and trying to find just the right place to give it away.

    Johnny Orr

    • Coach D says:

      Johnny,
      I’m glad you found these ideas helpful. The key is to find those things that help keep your heart free, alive, and connected to Jesus. If what you do for Christmas doesn’t help here, scrap it. There are so many expectations, pressures, oughts, and hidden demands at Christmas time. It used to drive me crazy. Honestly, I endured Christmas for a long time. But taking risks here is so important to get out of these prisons. That’s how we continue to stay close to him during this time.

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