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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Christmas (04/25/05)

TITLE: Real Gifts
By Karri Compton


Ah, Christmas. That hap, hap, happiest time of the year...

"Ooh, Mommy, there's a cool toy on t.v. C'mere, you have to see this!"

"Look, look, look! I want THAT for Christmas! Can I have it, PLEASE?"

"Are you gonna buy us a bunch of presents? I'll make my list!"

...has turned into a nightmare. What kind of selfish kids would spew forth such greediness from their mouths? Mine. (Gulp.) Doesn't do much for my confidence in child-rearing, but maybe someone else can relate?

I think my kids are toy magnets. It can't be proven, but I think there is a hunk of metal embedded somewhere in their bodies that beckons to toys. How many toys do we have in this house, anyway? I've asked myself this question on numerous occasions. It seems those fast food trinkets and tiny party favors keep multiplying and cluttering every room in the house. Every month, I give the kids each a grocery bag and make them fill it up with things they want to throw or give away. It helps, but what about preventing the Christmas stockpile?

After much thought, my husband and I decided to do something about the whole mess. We got all three of our offspring together and explained to them our game plan for this Christmas. Our goal for that year was to give: to think about what we could give, not what we could get. To understand that real gifts are gifts we give, not gifts we get. We reiterated the importance of God giving us Jesus at Christmas, and the reality that many people in our city and around the world never receive gifts. It was agreed that each child would only receive three gifts, and the extra money that would've been spent on our family would go to someone else. After all was said and done, the kids were quiet, but resigned to our proposition.

Not surprisingly, multiple opportunities came available for us to give to others, and our family chose two ways: one through Operation Christmas Child, which our church participates in, and the other through school helping needy families in the city. We went shopping at the discount stores to fill three shoe boxes, one from each child, to send overseas through Samaritan's Purse's program, Operation Christmas Child. What a joy to see the excitement on my children's faces while picking out toys and candy for unfortunate children their age. Later, we wrapped the boxes up in bright paper and delivered them to the church. Each class in my children's school provided a wish list for a needy family in the community. It wasn't difficult or expensive to buy those children clothes, but I imagine their faces brightened when they received a pile of things from strangers instead of nothing.

When it came time for my family to have our present-opening on Christmas morning, it ended quickly, though we slowly took turns. My kids didn't get everything they wanted, but it was more than they needed. The bows and wrappings were soon thrown away, but our joy in helping others remained. Weeks later, my house was not cluttered with unused toys and unopened candy. My children forgot about all those cool toys they saw on t.v. And there was contentment.

Ah, Christmas.

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This article has been read 774 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Angela Ranson05/03/05
You have a very clear, classy style. I really enjoyed this.
Suzanne R05/05/05
You are brave parents ... was this a true story? GOOD ON YOU!
Leticia Caroccio05/06/05
Your last line drove the message home. "And there was contentment". In order to teach the lesson of contentment we, ourselves, have to be content. You drove your message home in a soft and powerful way. Nicely done.
Deborah Porter 05/10/05
Karri, this was so good and you really were very brave to take the step you did. The result was worth it though. We have consumerism gone made these days, with the average Christmas "want" list for children containing items that cost in the hundreds. It is not only unrealistic for parents to think they can keep meeting their children's every dream at Christmas, but also not particularly healthy. I think most of us, as parents, are aware of that. But it takes a brave couple to actually take steps to bring the madness to an end. Oh, and about those fast food trinkets? My son is nearly 18 and has just thrown out a ton of them. That's not counting the ton that his father threw out on a major room clean up about five years ago. Those things breed like rabbits! With love, Deb