On Giving Intentionally

Christmas is right around the corner, and this year I have tried to be more intentional about gift giving for our daughter. It is so easy to go overboard with Christmas gifts, especially (I think) with an only child.

After these first few Christmases with Maggie, as we are slowly being pushed out of our home by excess, I realized I needed some guidelines for myself when choosing gifts. Friends have shared the “Jesus got 3 gifts so you get 3 gifts” philosophy. Initially, I thought this was brilliant, but I have struggled with the ambiguousness of just ‘3 gifts’. Me? I’m a rule-follower. I like things clearly defined and ‘3 gifts’ leaves too much room for stuff.

Stuff is not intentional.

I went into the shopping season with this as my loose guideline, though always hoping to come across a better philosophy for our family.

And then I found it.

It is perfect in its simplicity and scope.

                One thing you want,
                One thing you need,
                One thing you wear,
                One thing you read.

There are so many aspects of this that I love (especially the fact that not everything is a toy) but the one I really want to focus on is ‘One thing you need’.  This made me realize that my intention to be intentional with gift-giving had not yet reached the place it needed to be.

Maggie knows what Christmas is about. Just ask her and she will tell you, “It’s Jesus birthday.” She has her own nativity set so she can touch and play and learn.  We have been reading small sections of the birth story in her children’s bible each night at bedtime. We observe the feast days of St. Nicholas and St. Lucia (though this year was a miss with Lucy). I have a print out and am hoping our little family can begin the O Antiphons in just a couple of days.

We are doing our best to incorporate Jesus and the Church into every aspect of our Advent and Christmas, but I realized there is one place they are glaringly absent: in our gift-giving.

‘One thing you need.’

This simple phrase was my reminder that what my girl – our family – needs is only Jesus. Gifts are a fun but unnecessary part of Christmas, so if I want to be intentional with her gifts, I need to remember her spiritual needs first. 

A good reminder for us all.

A possible 'One thing you need' gift. My girl loves nesting dolls and these are beautiful Marian versions that will facilitate conversation as we play. Perfect!