Friday, December 16, 2011

How Much Is Too Much?

I want to state up front that I am not passing judgement or pushing an agenda.  :)  I remember one time I went to a Bible study.  The teacher/preacher asked this question...  "Is it wrong for a Christian to live in a million dollar home and own an airplane?"  Back then a million dollar home was much more than what a million dollars will buy you today.  Anyway, it was very interesting to hear the comments and discussion.  Some said it was wrong because others in the world lived in the streets or in cardboard boxes.  That they shouldn't spend that type of money on a home, etc.  Others said it was not wrong as long as their heart was right.  Still others thought that it depended on other things.

I have been hearing a lot about Christmas and Christmas shopping.  This is for those of you who celebrate and give gifts to your families.  How much money should be spent on each child and should it always be equal or should older children maybe have more spent on them?  Is it wrong to go into debt to provide "a nice Christmas" for your children?  There is NO right or wrong answer here.  I just want to hear what you think.  :)  Are you brave enough to answer? 

8 comments:

Amazing Love said...

Oh Boy! There are as many different opinions on this subject as there are people in this world, I am sure. Even in our house my husband and I have not always seen eye to eye about Christmas giving. He wants to give more and spend more, and I lean to the conservative side. I think that has alot to do with our differing upbringings. I do think it is important to be a fair as possible with the kids; we try to keep the gifts even between them all. I don't think it is smart, wise, or God's will for any of us to go in debt for Christmas gifts, nor for any other reason for that matter. The main thing that should be stressed at Christmas is Christ and His gift to us. I also very much enjoy time spent with family and friends. My husband's family has a "family reunion", so to speak, at Christmas that the whole Alexander family looks forward to.

Vickilynn said...

Shalom Marci,

Interesting question and one I know many people are asking themselves, especially in the light of these difficult economic times.

As a background before answering your question about gift-giving and money, I'd like to explain.

In our home, we celebrate the Feasts of the Bible AND we celebrate Channukah (The Feast of Dedication / The Festival of Light - John 10:22-23- AND Yeshua's miraculous, prophesied virgin birth - we believe He was born during the Feast of Tabernacles -He came to dwell / Tabernacle with us - which means He was most likely conceived of the Holy Spirit, during Channukah -as He is the Light of the World.)

That said, we DO give gifts and celebrate His birth (the miracle itself as related in the Scriptures), so that's why I'm answering, LOL!

We used to give lots and lots of gifts, especially when our children were smaller. We decorated and celebrated with gusto!

We still celebrate, but over the the years we have cut back drastically on the dollar amount and even the number of gifts we give. Why? Because we believe the gifts were upstaging the spiritual meaning of the time and we felt "caught up" in all the hullabaloo.

Some years ago sat down with our children and explained why we were making sure our focus was on Yeshua and not so much on the gifts.

Now, we set a limit on the number and dollar amount we spend and we ask the (now much older) children not to spend much on us.

No, we do NOT believe it is a good thing to use credit or otherwise go into debt buying gifts or celebrating Christmas. Yes, we did it before and yes we can tell you it's a horrible burden and it took us a long time to pay off. We do not believe it is being a good steward for us to buy what we cannot afford, especially during the celebration of Yeshua's birth, or even for Channuakh, or any time of the year!

Love in Messiah Yeshua,
Vickilynn
Micah 6:8

WN Mama said...

First of all, yes I am brave enough to answer.

Secondly my oldest daughter wants us to define "nice Christmas". That's the debater in her coming out.

My opinion is that yes, it is wrong to go into debt to provide Christmas at all be it "nice" or not. Christmas isn't about stuff.

Also, it is my opinion that no it doesn't have to be "equal". And as far as the amount of money spent, that would be up to each individual family depending on their financial circumstances.

Our Christmas spending varies from year to year because of our financial situation, and my children know that "love" doesn't equate with how much stuff they get for Christmas. Personally, I have noticed that, as a general rule, the more stuff they get...the child becomes naturally overwhelmed and the less they appreciate it.

That's the opinion from the WN Mama

Cindy in Wisconsin said...

Hi, Marci! I haven't celebrated Christmas for 8 yrs now (another subject altogether), but when I did, there really wasn't money to spend on gifts and much of the lavishness that we see today. Personally, I think it is very foolish to go into debt to give your family a certain level of Christmas. I know that my parents did this, tho. Not sure in retrospect that I consider all the interest they paid on those gifts to have been worth it. Did I need to have over 50 dolls? No. Do kids today, including my own grandchildren NEED the toys and gifts they will be getting? Probably not. Will they enjoy them and appreciate them? Possibly, at least for a few hours. Then the toys end up in a corner, seldom played with, because there are too many and the kids would rather play video games or watch movies on the DVD player. Gone are the days when Grandmas knit a new pair of mittens for each grandchild and gave those along with a coloring book and new box of 24 crayons (what one of my grandmas gave us each year). For the most part, I think kids today already have WAY TOO MUCH and should learn to give, instead of living to get. I would love to see my own grandchildren get nothing this year, but spend time and effort giving to others. That won't happen, but I still think it'd do them good. How do we justify spending hundreds of dollars on Christmas "stuff" when people are starving to death in other places, yes, even here in the US, or when believers in other countries are being imprisoned, tortured and killed for their faith? I can't help thinking that the way we celebrate Christmas, supposedly as the birth of our Messiah, is far, far removed from the Father's heart for His lost sheep.

Okay, off my soapbox, and back to your questions: I have 6 children. My policy was to spend an equal amount on each child. That amount was seldom more than $20 or $25 (what I still give for birthday gifts). I just can't see spending a couple hundred dollars per child. What child NEEDS $200 in toys for Christmas? Crazy! I also focused more on handmade gifts than purchased gifts, mostly because I couldn't afford to spend more, but also because I think handmade gifts are worth more since they come from the heart and effort of the giver.

So there you have my two cents' worth. I have to say that I do NOT miss the stress of Christmas at ALL. Not being a Scrooge, rather choosing to honor the LORD by keeping His Word.

The Neighbor Girl said...

Warning: this comment comes from a teen who doesn't have any children and therefore doesn't know what she's talking about. :)

Define "nice Christmas."

While I can understand the wish of parents to provide a "nice Christmas" for their kids, personally, I think you can get a load of stuff for Christmas and have an absolutely awful day. The amount of stuff you get doesn't insure that your family loves you or that they truly care about you or Christmas. They're just following what everybody else does.

A real "nice Christmas" (in my opinion) would be spending the day with my family - knowing that everybody really loved each other and truly didn't care what was wrapped up in a cardboard box under the tree.

If I thought that a "nice Christmas" equaled what I wanted gifts-wise, than Christmas could be ruined because my family didn't get or couldn't afford what I wanted. Is that the true spirit of Christmas? No. Jesus died giving me eternal life, and I'm not about to spend his "birthday" griping because I didn't get the gift I wanted.

Have a merry, Christ filled Christmas!

-The Neighbor Girl

Sharon said...

I believe the Bible can give us an answer to all the questions. Some that come to mind is not going into debt, all things in moderation, not envying what our neighbor has. For too many years, Christmas has been commercialized to the point that Christ isn't even invited into the equation. Small children aren't going to know or care how much money we spend. They just like opening presents...but the amount of gifts are started and set by the parents along with whether or not they keep the real meaning of Christmas alive in their home and instill it into their children.

LadySnow said...

Oh wow. Marci you sure know how to ask a loaded question. ;-) This is only the second year that our little family has "done Christmas." I am grateful for the first few years of our marriage to get away from the traditional Christmas that you see most people having. Made us truly realize what was most important. As for spending tons and tons of money on children for gifts....that's just crazy. This year (mainly it's because it's all I could afford) each child is getting a $6-7 gift and then they are all getting a couple of games to share. And we don't open gifts on Christmas morning. We prefer all the focus being on Christ.

Usually we spend Christmas Eve with my IL's at their churches candlelight service. This year it will be spent with my family and then Christmas day we will attend church, do the church service at the retirement home and then a get together at my IL's home. I would venture to say that 95% of the children out there that get a ton of gifts don't need any of it. I know of one mom that only gives gifts that her children can share for Christmas and then for their birthday she will get something for just them.

So to answer in short...it's a very bad idea to go into debt for any sort of gift in my opnion. :-)

Tara Boler said...

I personally try to give home made or practical gifts every year both children get a new set of pajamas, books, and a game or 2 that can be played together. I agree that most kids today have way more "stuff" than any kid needs. This year I did spend more on my youngest as she needed a few therapy things that will help her a lot so she got 1 of the items for her birthday and 1 of them for Christmas. (I am only giving it to her for Christmas as she likes to unwrap things, I have rewrapped her birthday gifts in newspaper daily for the past week) Christmas is about Christ's love for us and we prefer to have our kids help us shop and wrap for a needy family in the community who we also buy practical gifts for ie: coats, gloves, hats, books for the kids etc. I do not believe it is Biblical to go into debt to have an extravagant Christmas, I feel that that is not good stewardship. To sum up my feelings we try to bless someone who needs it and put our focus on Christ, the true meaning of Christmas, and fellowship together as a family