Over Thanksgiving, my daughter, Kathryn shared with me her new philosophy for Christmas gift giving to her children. Santa will now leave for her kids something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. Kathryn could not remember who said or wrote this first but she has made the philosophy her own. I think it's the perfect approach to limiting the excess that has robbed the season of meaning and overwhelmed our children and grandchildren. Additionally, the financial hangover we experience when the January bill arrives can be avoided.
But it is not just Christmas that suffers under the burden of gift giving. When Marty was growing up, they celebrated Hanukkah by gathering to light the menorah and enjoy a family meal. Yes, there were gifts but it was items like socks and small toys. Today computers or iPads are expected for Hanukkah--though in Marty's case those things were still 30 years in the future. In my family we knew that Santa would leave us one big present and a few things we needed. It was the excitement of the season and being with family that held the joy.
Whether you take up Kathryn's catchy little tag line or make up your own, I encourage you to be intentional about gift giving and resist the urge to overdo and overwhelm. There is joy in tradition and in being surprised by a special gift under the tree. But there can be too much of a good thing when gift giving gets out of hand. Gather with friends and family to share a gift or two but remember to laugh, sing and trade stories with those you love during this season of faith and tradition.