When I was a child, I loved Christmas (actually, I still do!). I enjoyed everything…from our family’s tradition of reading the story of Christ’s birth to seeing people I haven’t seen in a long time to hot chocolate on cold nights. Most of all, my family loved getting gifts for each other. We had fun searching for the perfect gift, and the sneaking around that followed.
Over the past few years, my family has started to do something that I am not so sure about: Christmas Gift Wish Lists. I think it is partially due to the fact that all of us live in different places, some of us pretty fare away.
There are some significant arguments in support of trading Christmas Gift Wish Lists. For example, this tradition can definately relieve some of the stress that comes with the season. Instead of spending all of your time thinking of gifts to give to people, you can trade lists and get your shopping done early so that you can spend some extra time with your family. It is definitely easier to look at a list than to plan for weeks. Another positive aspect of trading lists is you know for certain that you are giving gifts people will enjoy.
However, I do think there is a negative side to this. In some cases, giving from a list can be less thoughtful. Spending less time and putting less thought into the gifts you give can take away from their value. I think this can cause some people to lose focus on the whole reason we give gifts to each other in the first place: to show someone you love them, or to help mend a broken relationship, or to bring joy to someone’s life. Gift giving can become more of an obligation or routine.
This is not to say that a gift cannot be thoughtful if you see it on someone’s wish list. I think we just have to be careful about where our hearts are in this season of both extreme joy and extreme stress. This year I want to be as mindful of the reason I celebrate as when I was a child.
Some ideas to make a gift more thoughtful:
- make a card
- write a letter saying why the recipient means so much to you
- make a treat for the recipient (nothing warms the heart like home made cookies)
- as you give your gifts say something special about each person