Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Matters Most

Gone, for now at least, are the days of buying gifts for every occassion. Birthdays. Mother's and Father's Days. Christmas.

My husband and I began this the first Christmas we moved in to our new home. There was nothing we needed and our home was so new the paint fumes still hung in the air. We had our own home- finally!- and we decided just to fill our stockings with little things the other would enjoy or had a need for- a bag of Starbucks for my husband or special chocolates for me.

This was actually, a good idea, because the next Christmas found us expecting our first baby and staring down the decision of whether or not I would stay at home full time. We don't buy each other anything for Christmas, although the we do let the kids get the other parent something (with a set dollar amount). Mother's and Father's Day also arrives with small but thoughtful gifts from the children. Even birthdays and anniversaries are small affairs. (Although for our 10th anniversary, we are planning on a weekend to celebrate, so Grands, if you're reading this, be on alert- plan on some bonding time with the kids!)

Why? Well, there are several reasons. We're grown-ups. We are a one income family by choice. We have everything we need. So our thought is, "Why buy stuff we don't have to have?"

And we're seeing that in our spending for extended family, too. Don't get me wrong. We love to celebrate and find a reason to enjoy every milestone (see John 10:10), but we don't do it with a big credit card bill that comes the next month.

This has been a hard lesson for me. I love to give gifts. It's not that I love to shop; it has its purpose, but it's the giving that gives me joy.

So, in our need to whittle away more spending and a need to preserve my sanity from hours of contemplating the 'perfect' gift for people who have everything they need, too, we have decided to give what matters most- time and love.

How? Well, for Christmas, we have given our parents meals- home-cooked once a month for a set number of months. My husband has given his dad the gift of mowing his lawn. For Mother's Day, I am making greeting cards for all the moms, grandmoms, and aunts in our lives. (Yes, there is a cost, but it is nominal.) F0r my Pop's birthday tomorrow, we baked a batch of cookies. Our son spent two hours decorating a ziplock bag, making a card, coloring pictures, and writing a birthday message. He could not have been more proud; he chattered the whole time about how his poppa was  gonna love his gifts.

Of all the gifts I've given in my life and of all I have received, the most precious were the ones that time and love went into. That's what we want our children to learn- what matters most- the love, time, and thought that go into giving. Whether it's store-bought or handmade, we want them to invest themselves into the giving because that's what matters most- the cost, which is the love that went into the gift.