If there is one thing that takes the edge off our Christmas joy, it’s the pressure of the consumer culture to give better, more unique, and thoughtful presents for an increasing multitude of people.

No matter how much we criticise the materialistic values that dominate Christmas, every year, we get sucked into the eleventh-hour madness of shopping till midnight.

A New Idea

One of our best Christmases as kids was the year we cancelled all material presents and instead gave gifts of service and affirmation. We undertook to write a letter to each family member telling them what we loved and appreciated about them.

We included a ‘gift voucher’ which might have been a pledge to do some babysitting, or to take an extra turn at the washing up, or to pray every day for a week for a special need. Some vouchers were a pledge not to tease or criticise. (These were tough to deliver on!)

Living the Christmas Spirit

This process had an amazing impact. Even before we had exchanged our gifts.

Instead of spending hours in the shopping centre, we spent the time in quiet reflection thinking about how much each person meant in our lives. We felt a heightened awareness of the preciousness of each family member.

And as we racked our brains thinking about what to put in our gift vouchers, we learnt what it is to be truly other-centred in our giving. Not giving the gift we would most like. We really had to think about what that person would most appreciate.

Whatever it was, we tailored the gift to something that was uniquely for that person.

Of course, the other important advantage was the packaging — or lack of it. We chuckled as we watched our neighbours flattening the endless boxes in an attempt to get them into the garbage bins. Turns out, there was another gift we could offer — the use of our spare garbage space!!!

Originally published at Smart Loving. Photo by Ann Danilina on Unsplash.

Published On: December 10th, 20210 CommentsTags: , , ,

About the Author: Byron and Francine Pirola

Married for 25 years, with 5 children, Byron & Francine Pirola are the founders and co-authors of the SmartLoving Series – marriage enrichment and marriage preparation courses designed to help build successful and resilient marriages. International speakers and authors of numerous articles on marriage, more than 3000 couples have attended their programs, workshops and conferences in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain Byron & Francine are Executive Directors of the Marriage Resource Centre from which they run SmartLoving programs and produce digital resources. Francine graduated from Fordham University with a Masters in Religion and Religious Education. Byron is a founding partner of the strategic consulting firm, Port Jackson Partners Limited, and a Director of both listed and unlisted companies. He holds a PhD from the Commonwealth Centre for Gene Technology, Adelaide University.

Leave A Comment