Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I am discovering this Christmas is very different from past ones due to our financial downsizing. I can remember spending hours and weeks shopping for the family and then just as long wrapping. Then there were weeks of baking and delivering goodies to friends and loved ones. By the time Christmas came (and even up to the night before) I was still running back to the stores thinking I didn't have enough and looking for just 'one more gift'. I crawled out of bed on Christmas morning feeling beyond exhaustion. It was fun in a crazy, insane kind of way. But, living on less money has brought it's own kind of peace in the midst of the chaotic storm of December that I'm frankly enjoying.

I can remember reading excerpts from Laine's Letters on her gift giving budget of $3.00 per person and wondering how anyone could buy a decent gift for that amount. (She made a specific effort to point out that she prayed for the Lord to give her 'eyes to see' before she entered a store). The thought stuck with me and now, more than 8 plus years since I first read her letters, I am seeing that it's very possible to give less and still bless the person you are gifting. I love to look back over the years and see how the Lord has brought different people into my life that have radically impacted my way of thinking and prepared me for the life that He has given me the past few years.

This year I cut my gift giving budget down to a third of what we normally spend. Practically speaking that means I targeted to spend $20.00 on each grandchild. The adults have exchanged names this year with a $20.00 budget per gift. I have 7 grandchildren that I buy gifts for. I also have 3 birthdays in December. I asked their parents to give me suggestions which was very helpful and then I watched the sales. I was able to find a nice gift for each child... one that they had hoped for.

A few of the BEST gifts I received for Christmas last year...
performing for Grammy!

Staying out of the stores this time of year has been essential to sticking with my budget. I've had one point this month (thankfully it was while I was at home) that I panicked feeling that I had not given enough. If I had been in the stores regularly or reading the sale ads I'm sure I would have given into the pressure to buy more. When I really took time to look at the panic I realized it was a fear that my grandchildren would not love me as much because I was unable to buy them more. Once I evaluated the fear I could see it was ridiculous.. I am not loved because of what I can or cannot give at Christmas. If I am.. then we have a serious problem.

As much as I love to give gifts I can see the downsizing as a very good thing (if received in a godly manner) to not be bombarded with every material thing the heart desires. Do you remember that episode of Little House on the Prairie where the children were snowed in and it looked like they were not going to receive any gifts for Christmas? Remember Mr. Edwards? He came at the very last minute and brought oranges I believe and maybe a few small trinkets. The children (and Mrs. Ingall) were overwhelmed with gratefulness. Can you imagine the response from a child in this generation if they were given just an orange as a gift? Their expectations have been raised by the abundance of a prosperous time in the history of our nation. As our economy (and the nations) downsizes I'm hoping so will their expectations.

There will not be the crazy wild tearing of a gazillion packages with paper flying everywhere this year. I'll kind of miss that in one way. I do love to give and see the excitement on a child's face when they see a mountain of presents. But, my heart is content knowing that God has sovereignly assigned the amount of money He has given and it is all working into His plan for my good and therefore the good of my children and grandchildren and all involved. That contentment brings far greater pleasure than a mountain of gifts ever could.

I continue to learn in God's school that age old lesson that Paul spoke about several thousand years ago ...

But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.

For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 1 Tim 6:6-9 NASB

Has your family cut back on your budget for Christmas this year? How has it effected you personally? What did you do to cut back?


  1. We cut back on Christmas a number of years ago when we went to no income for 2 months during the month of Dec. and Jan. Boy was that an eye opener and yet we learnt contentment from it. Now that we are on a fixed income and a very low income, we continue to keep Christmas small. We work instead to remember what Christmas is truly all about....celebrating the birth of Jesus.

    To cut back we made our meals simpler at Christmas. We give fewer gifts and make more homemade ones. We give to the family on a whole rather than gifts for grandchildren and their parents. And we don't give each other gifts. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Hugs

  2. We give very little gifts now, because we need to afford living costs. (I figure that is wiser than going into debt.) Our Christmas is simpler than most and I prefer it that way.

    I don't like how commercial Christmas is and the stressing over making it perfect. It is crazy to stress ourselves over a holiday that is meant for Jesus, so I don't stress about the holidays anymore. Everything has been simplified and some things eliminated.

    As you are blessed with children and grandchildren, I believe that time with them is special - memories made are more important than gifts. It is important for children to learn that life is not all about receiving, and that giving is so much richer. Love doesn't come in a box. I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and blessings with your upcoming move. Lyn

  3. Your grands are lovely. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

  4. Sometimes we just have to ask for gifts from others. I needed someone to stay with my husband while I taught last night. He was supposed to go to their home, but wouldn't go. Instead this family of five all came to our home. Pray for his back, which was x-rayed yesterday. We were in horrible automobile crash on Sunday. He has been to his doctor and I am trying to get in to mine today.

    I think about people all year long and buy all year--economic gifts and I also make them. This year I had the joy of making an open-before-Christmas gift for a family--a quilted Christmas tree skirt.

  5. Lorie... I wanted to make sure that you realized my grands were making silly faces and that is not how they normally look! LOL!!! They are lovely though! :-) Love them so much it hurts!

    Scrappy: Yep, we're cutting back on meal expense, too. We love prime rib for New Years but it's not going to happen this year unless the kids spring for it. That would take a week's worth of our grocery money. But, I'm confident we won't go hungry. :-)

    NewKid: Oh my! I'm so sorry you were in a bad accident. Is his back hurting? I'll head over to your place (on the blog) tonight and see if I can get more news.

    How wonderful you were able to quilt something special for your family. I'm sure they loved it! I made a Christmas tree skirt for my mom years ago but it was not quilted and had hand sewn sequins on it. That was popular in those days.

  6. I only wish more families would realize that it's not the big expensive gift that makes us happy.

    I remember being thrilled about getting a stocking with nuts, apples, oranges and a special surprise in the toe of the stocking.

    Your grandchildren are so cute..... mine love to make the silly faces too....

    Merry Christmas!

  7. Oh, I love the photo of the gkids making faces! I laughed out loud at that one! Oh, I could write so much about the points you have brought up, but I'd be here a week! Yes, we have cut back for Christmas this past year, and I'm cutting back even more for 2011. I do make things and I think the gkids will get raggedy throws for Christmas in 2011--whooo-hoo! I'm excited just thinking about not having to shop or stress over it all!! Yippie!!! Have a great day!!


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