I was reading the book The Legend of St. Nicholas to my children the other day and it really got me thinking about the purpose of buying Christmas presents.
I have to admit that I sort of hate the Christmas shopping season. People get so ugly while they are buying presents. Black Friday kicks it off with super sales everywhere and it’s a frenzy. How crazy is it that people have died from stampedes and crowds on Black Friday? What does say about our greed for stuff? We really need to re-think why we are purchasing presents for one another.
In The Legend of St. Nicholas a little boy needs to do his last-minute Christmas shopping with his father. They see a man standing outside a store asking for money with a bell. His dad gives him some money and the boy thinks to himself, I should give some of my money too but I want to have money left over to buy myself something.
I feel the same way sometimes. I have been out shopping and have been swept up in the excitement of shopping and then ended up buying myself things I really didn’t need.
Some questions I’ve asked myself are: Why am I buying these gifts for my friends and family? Am I doing it out of an obligation because I know they are going to purchase me something in return? Am I getting them a gift just because it’s what I think I am supposed to do? Am I trying to get them something they need or would bring them joy?
The reason for giving at Christmas is an important lesson not only for adults but also for children. People give gifts at Christmas for many reasons. One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas, is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men: Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. Frankincense was a perfume used in Jewish worship and, as a gift, it showed that people would worship Jesus. Other people who love and follow Jesus give gifts to remember the true “Gift” – Jesus.
Although Santa Claus and St. Nicholas have nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas, many people do love the story about this man who did, in fact, give gifts to the poor and demonstrated for us a wonderful example for Christmas giving.
In the picture book The Legend of St. Nicholas, while the little boy is in the store shopping he overhears the store Santa Claus telling one of the legends of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was a man who decided to give gifts to others secretly. He had some friends who were in need so he used the chimney to deliver the toys and after seeing the joy he brought others he decided to spend the rest of his life giving to the poor. This story inspires the little boy in the book to buy his gifts for his family and for the poor.
The faith of a child is so special and amazing. Children are easily inspired to give and share. Even though The Legend of St. Nicholas is written for kids, parents, don’t be surprised if it inspires you to re-think the purpose of Christmas gift giving!
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17
Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about the purpose of gift-giving especially at Christmas!