“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“All the Christmas presents in the world are worth nothing without the presence of Christ.” David Jeremiah
- Grab your Bible, journal, and hot drink. Now is your time to breathe and be alone with God!
The Season of Giving
One of my favorite family traditions is so simple, yet so fun: Secret Santa.
Each year (on Thanksgiving if we’re thinking ahead, otherwise early December!), my family gathers together and draws names for a gift exchange.
Honestly, half the fun in this tradition is learning how to successfully keep your assigned name a secret. In my family, my brother and especially my dad will attempt to trick the girls—my sister and I—into revealing the names we drew. I confess I’ve accidentally let my name slip before, and I am reminded of this often. It’s a good thing I’ve been taught to be able to laugh at myself!
Anyway, here’s how Secret Santa works: Once we draw the names and before anyone goes shopping, we decide how much each person is allowed to spend on their Secret Santa gift. We didn’t want Dad going all out while my 7-year-old sister found that her budget was only large enough for a couple packs of gum.
When we were younger, the max amount each person could spend was $10, but we’ve pushed it up to $20 now that we’re older. Believe it or not, the limit makes it more fun! Secret Santa is not about purchasing the most expensive or extravagant gift. It’s about getting creative, resourceful, and thoughtful—thinking about something meaningful that will make one person in our family smile.
The next step is choosing what time we will open our Secret Santa gifts. In our house, while the other gifts waited until Christmas Day, we have designated Christmas Eve as our time for this particular gift exchange.
This tradition is so easy and gets everyone involved. It’s something each of us looks forward to year after year.
It turns out, though, my parents weren’t just fun, they were clever because Secret Santa taught me from a young age that Christmas is about more than “toys, toys, toys.”
Maybe it does feel like Christmas has become all about the presents under the tree.
The good news? Secret Santa is different. This tradition taught my siblings and me to give rather than simply receive.
Looking back, I can see that sometimes we bought presents with ourselves in mind, not necessarily thinking about the person who would be receiving the gift. One year, my little brother presented me a bear-shaped slingshot after spending a good 20 minutes “testing” it out in the backyard. That memory still gives us a good laugh!
As we’ve grown, things have changed. We’ve learned to buy or create gifts with the other person in mind. Sometimes the gift is funny, and sometimes it’s sweet, but either way, we have learned the joy of presenting to a person we love something they will want, need, or enjoy.
And it turns out that teaching your children the beauty of giving is the perfect time to share with them the most precious gift they will ever receive: the gift of Christ.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Blessings and Love,
Questions to Ponder
- How are you going to teach your children about the joy of giving this Christmas?
- Have you ever taken the time to tell your children the reason why we give gifts on this holiday? Talk about the Wise Men’s gifts to Jesus and the gift of eternal life that God has promised to us through his Son. If you haven’t ever thought about why we give gifts, or just don’t know a great answer to this question, look it up and share what you find with your kids. There are so many helpful and explanatory sites online!
If you want to try Secret Santa but your children are young and don’t have much money, you could try one of two things. One idea is to find special jobs around the house to earn a few dollars to spend on a gift. Or, encourage them to create a gift for their Secret Santa recipient: write and illustrate a short picture book, sew a small pillow (I did this a lot when I was little!), write a poem or draw or paint something their gift recipient will love. There are so many ways to get creative!