Written by Sherry Schumann, COO, Christian Grandparenting Network
You and I didn’t grow up with Amazon (or Amazon Prime for those of us who want free shipping). Nor did we have access to computers, Google, or the Internet, which offer us countless shopping experiences without leaving the comfort of our homes. This apparent lack didn’t stop us from dreaming about a Christmas wish list. We had everything we needed at our fingertips; we had the Sears and Roebuck catalog.
I remember sitting on our front porch step, flipping the pages of my mom’s catalog and listing the things I wanted for Christmas on a piece of lined paper. While my handwriting was stronger than most first-graders, printing was still a tedious task. I must have sat on the porch for two hours or more, because by the end of the session, I had listed more than one-hundred items.
If commercialism and materialism encroached on Christmas in the sixties, how much worse is it today? Our adult children face the difficult task of raising selfless children in a culture that continually reinforces the “I want” syndrome. We as grandparents have the responsibility and privilege of helping our children keep Christ as the main focus of Christmas for their families.
What is a grandparent to do?
If you are open to starting a new family tradition, I have a simple idea to share with you. My husband and I borrowed this idea from the author of Pass the Legacy, Cathy Jacobs, five years ago.
To me, the tree was beautifully adorned that year. Clipped to its branches were three envelopes, one for each of our three sons and their families. As everyone gathered around the tree, anxious to dig into the presents piled beneath it, my husband announced that we were starting a new family tradition called a “Gift for Jesus” or simply the “Jesus Gift.”
I unclipped the envelopes and passed them to our sons. Each envelope contained a Christmas card with a check inside. Written on the card were the following words:
The greatest Gift we’ve ever received (or will ever receive) wasn’t dropped off in a mad dash by the Fed-Ex man but through the birth pains of a young virgin laboring in a stable. It wasn’t wrapped in red-n-green printed foil but in dirty rags and swaddling clothes. This Gift wasn’t purchased as an extension of the giver but as the Giver Himself.
In honor of our Lord’s birth, we want to establish a new tradition. Each Christmas, we will give you a monetary gift to share with a charity, institution, or person-in-need of your family’s choosing. We pray that this tradition blesses you and its recipient.
Mom and Dad
After everyone had a chance to read their card, I explained that the Jesus Gift would be the first gift we opened each year, even before our traditional and much-loved stockings. I further explained there was one envelope per family, instead of individual envelopes, because we wanted to encourage family discussion about those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Finally, I guaranteed our sons and their families that their recipient selection was a personal one. We didn’t expect them to tell us who they chose.
I am thrilled to say that the Jesus gift continues to be unclipped from the Christmas tree and distributed as the first gift we open as a family on Christmas.
If this idea blesses you, or if you have another tradition to share, please let me know by commenting on this post. I look forward to hearing from you. God bless you and your beautiful families this Christmas and in the coming New Year. May we all remember that Christ is the Greatest Gift of all!