How to fight back when greed grabs hold of your kids at Christmas

Jennifer DeWeil

I don’t know about you, but this time of year seems to create little gimmie monsters of our normal, mostly kind and thankful children. And each year, I make a vow that next Christmas will be different from the last. I will stress less and enjoy more. I will shop early, instead of hustling and bustling to the last minute. And I will help my family focus on Jesus’ birth, instead of letting them caught up in the “gimmes” and “I wannas.”

And yet, here I am again. Christmas shopping with a list that makes me cringe, instead of filling my heart with the joy of blessing my kids and others.

If I’m being honest, I tell myself I failed. I tell myself it’s all my fault, and it will never change. But, I have realized the voice that tells me this is not the voice I need to listen to. Yes, I did fail to do some of the things I intended to do, but that doesn’t mean I failed or am a failure. And neither are you!

All I Really Want for Christmas

All I really want for Christmas is for my kids to understand the true meaning of Christmas — that God’s son, Jesus, was born to be the savior we so desperately need. I don’t want us to get so caught up in the rush of the season that we lose sight of what this holiday is all about. I want my kids to value Jesus more than the gifts they want and/or receive. And, I want my kids to be an extension of this most precious gift to everyone they meet.

I have a feeling that if you’re reading this, you want this for your family, too. So how can we make this happen? Throughout the remaining days of this year, let’s not try to do it all or start new traditions. Instead, let’s focus on the following three ideas and then allow the change in us to greatly change the focus in our homes and with our family.

3 Tips to Shift the Focus of Your Christmas

1. Just say no.

No. Two little letters that have the power to cause a full on tantrum in your 2-year-old but can also free your schedule to focus on the things that matter. This year, what if we said no more than we said yes, or only said yes to the things that are most important? No doesn’t have to be a bad word.

You can say no to purchasing everything on your child’s ever-growing Christmas list, and say yes to buying the things you can afford and you know your child will truly love. You can say no to over scheduling, and choose what’s most important to say yes to.

When we choose to say yes to what matters most, we are modeling for our kids that life’s not about what we have and what we get, but about being present with the ones and things that matter most. Colossians 3:15 tells us to let the peace of Christ (Jesus) rule in our hearts and to be thankful. Being thankful isn’t just a good idea, but something followers of Jesus are called to do.

2. Model an attitude of gratitude.

This one is vital in turning your gimmie monster back into your normal kiddo. When we allow our minds to be focused on gratitude for how God has blessed us, it tends to lessen the importance of what we want. This is true for us, adults, too.

Take time each day to talk about what you are thankful for. You could make paper chains for each person in the family, and add a link each day for something you are thankful for. At the end of the month or on New Year’s Day, you can go back over your list to remember all the things you are thankful for.

3. Practice giving before receiving.

What if we started a trend where we gave gifts before we were allowed to receive them? Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). This is just one way to help our families experience the blessing of giving before receiving.

You could also give a family member a handwritten note to tell them how much you love them, or make some cookies to give to your neighbors, or seek out ways to serve those who need some extra love this year.

Or, tell your kids how our church gives to people in the community and all over the world. Share how you’re praying through what to give to the Overflow Offering and ask if they want to contribute as well.

Another great tip: Before you tear open the gifts of Christmas Day, take time to read the way that God gave the best gift of all when He sent His Son, Jesus, to us!

Christmas doesn’t have to be about good deals or deep debt, but it can be about the good news of our Savior and the deep love He has for us and our family.

This year, let’s give generously because God so generously gave His Son for us (Luke 2). Let’s love extravagantly because Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us (Romans 5:8). And let’s be filled with joy, instead of with worry (Luke 2:10). Christmas doesn’t have to be about good deals or deep debt. It can be about the good news of our Savior and the deep love He has for us and our family.

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