I felt bad when I went to bed on Christmas Eve. Your presents and stockings were ready for Christmas morning. But I felt like maybe it wasn’t good enough. I felt like maybe we had not done enough. Maybe the whole idea of three-presents wasn’t a great idea. Maybe you’d be disappointed when you walked downstairs. Maybe you’d feel like we didn’t give you thoughtful gifts. Maybe you’d wish for more.
But that’s why we chose to do three gifts when you were just a baby, Lydia. We don’t want our family always wishing for more. We want our family to be characterized by contentment and servanthood. I don’t know if we do that. I don’t know if we chose to do that because it’s something Daddy and I struggle with. But I think it’s important—and there’s something about Christmas morning gifts that flies in the face of contentment and a humble heart.
When I was in college, one of my oldest professors, a very wise, old-fashioned man told us that if we wanted to save money, we should never get catalogs in the mail and never go to the mall. If we didn’t look at new stuff to desire, then we wouldn’t desire it. I remember thinking that was kind of weird at the time–I can’t go to the mall? I can’t look at cool clothes or nice furniture magazines?
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to agree with him. The more I look around at what I don’t have, the more I want! I feel like I “need” a new kitchen gadget, or some cuter jeans, a newer computer. The way to combat those desires is by not feeding them.
So, as we choose three gifts for you each year, we do it with care. We look for gifts that go along with your development, your personality, your desires and your giftings. We give these three (sometimes non-flashy) gifts as a deliberate step in guarding your heart from greed.
And its hard for us! After leaving the Dominican Republic and seeing kids excited about a box of dollar store gifts, I felt sick about American Christmas gifts and piles of presents. But I still wanted to get you five or six different pieces to go with your American Girl doll, Lydia. Asa, I wanted to buy you gymnastics mats and tumbling equipment. I wanted to buy you clothes and books and every cute toy in Target. I wanted to get movies and pajamas and funny joke presents and every little thing I knew would make you smile. Choosing three special gifts is guarding my own heart from pride and greed.
Maybe giving you a few more gifts on Christmas wouldn’t hurt. But in our bumbling, always-a-new-parent way, it’s what we’ve felt like we should do. And I pray that as you grow with this tradition, you’ll see the simple contentment it brings. I pray you won’t long for more and better and faster and shinier. I pray you’ll see love in these three gifts.
As I’ve watched you these few days after Christmas, I see your joy in putting together puzzles, coloring with new markers, enjoying generic toys and reading books. But I’ve also seen confusion and wonder at other people’s bigger and flashier gifts. I’ve heard you whine and pout when your sibling took your toy first.
You’re just human. You’ll go back and forth between enjoying the simple and desiring more. It’s the same for me. Some days I want to be Ann Voskamp and do away with Christmas gifts. Other times I want to buy Amazon’s Top Ten list for you.
So, I ramble through this letter to say that I love you. I want the best for you. I want to give you everything. But I know that giving you everything is not the best for you. As you grow, I pray you find rest in where you are and what you have. I pray you always get your worth from God’s gift and plan in you–not from the people or things around you.
Merry Christmas, to my most precious gifts.
I love you,
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