He only received 3 gifts

by Stefany on November 29, 2010

I have been working on ways to help my kids see the true meaning of Christmas for a few years.  Johnny is now 4 years old and starting to grasp that Christmas is the birth of Jesus.  Kenzie has taken steps to join the Catholic faith, as has her dad.  With these changes in our house, I think now is the best time to make the meaning of this holiday season ever present in our home.

We are doing it big this year.  As we unpacked the nativity sets last night, I was looking at the three Wise Men with the kids.  They were able to see that Jesus received 3 gifts on Christmas (his birth).  I told the kids that if Jesus only received three gifts, shouldn’t that be enough for them?

We have talked about this at length over the past few weeks actually but the visual with the Wise Men has really helped.  I want Christmas to have meaning and not be about how many gifts you get.  I also don’t want to spend so much money on gifts that my kids neither want or need.  We are sure this is going to help our kids understand the blessing of this holiday season.

So, my kids have been encouraged to choose 3 gifts that they would want most of all for Santa to bring.  We will still be stuffing their stockings with little things but there will only be 3 main gifts under the tree for each kid this year.  We are trying to make sure that those gifts are things the kids want and not things to fill space.  Of course, there is only so much you can do with those that don’t say what they want but we are trying to make this a special Christmas for our family.  In addition, it will help keep our finances in check at this time of year that so many people really stress their wallets and bank accounts.

This new tradition will be one that lasts and hopefully has an effect on my kids as they grow up.  Christmas is not about gifts… it is about The Gift.  Jesus.

Do you have any traditions?  I love to hear about other families’ traditions so please share!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat November 30, 2010 at 2:30 am

I LOVE THIS!!!!! I was just saying the other day in this post: http://senilemomentia.com/2010/11/november-day-24-relief-and-release-nablopomo/ … that I refuse to raise my children to celebrate gifts and associate the annual mark of the birth of Jesus Christ with commercialism and chaos! My step sons have always had everything they wanted for Christmas and now their mom is wanting my husband and I to support this same holiday habit and we just can’t do it. For one, it would mean doing WAY more for them than for the rest of our kids and for two, that is totally NOT what we are celebrating! I absolutely love that your family is doing this and I’m SO inspired by the example you’re setting for your children — not only for the holiday itself but lessons in self control, financial responsibility, and developing non-wasteful habits rather than over-indulging out of want rather than need, necessity or reason! KUDOS to you, sweetheart!!!
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DaenelT November 30, 2010 at 8:11 am

Totally love this idea. My family reads the story of the nativity every year before we open gifts because we want our children to understand why we celebrate Christmas. Big hugs to you for raising your children to value THE GIFT instead of the gifts.
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carol November 30, 2010 at 8:26 am

My children were brought up to know the understanding of Christmas but they had many gifts and were so excited on Christmas morning. All the traditions have not been carried on and I think things will change in my house too.

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Nicole May November 30, 2010 at 8:42 am

I think that really is a great idea. My kids get so many gifts–from aunts, great aunts, grandmas, and my cousins– that it gets overwhelming! This is a great way to keep it in check–at least on our end!

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Michelle December 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I LOVE this idea! last year we went a bit overboard and the kids were just overwhelmed. They did not know what to play with! We decided this year we cut back – way back! My 4 year old understands it is Jesus’ birthday, by my 2 year old keeps saying that it is Santa’s birthday.
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Debby Pucci December 3, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I have a dear friend who does that with her two little boys. They only get three gifts under the tree like Jesus. She does include a few gifts in each package they get but it’s still only 3 gifts they actually open.
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Lydia Beyrent December 16, 2010 at 9:43 am

Thank you so much for sharing this great idea!!!!
I LOVE IT!!! this is such a clear way to celebrate the meaning of Christmas, Jesus birthday, & truly separate from the lost madness of meaningless gifts galore! Having the stockings on the side stuffed w/ little gifts is a family tradition I will carry on, but this new -perfect idea of 3 gifts as Jesus received is absolutely brilliant, & will be easy to pass down to keep the message alive!! Good job! I’ll be sure to thank God for this message received through you! :) Merry Christmas!!

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Stefany December 16, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I am glad this post touched you Lydia!

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Lisa Brown December 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Yes, not to mention how many gifts they get from aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. We had a small budget this year, but I still feel like the kids are getting too much “stuff” from us/Santa. My plan next year is to have them pick one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they’ll wear, one thing they’ll read, and then an item of their choice. It’s more than three, but I do feel like it gives a good variety of things, instead of just toys & junk.
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