On Mothers and Daughters

The idea of exchanging Christmas presents brings a lot to my mind: joy, stress, annoyance…

My mom and I often have opposing ideas, and giving gifts at Christmas is one of our sticking points. My family is divided between “Those Who Enjoy Shopping” and “Those Who Avoid Shopping.” My mom and I are major contenders for opposite teams.

presentsMy mom views Christmas as a time of abundance. She is generous to those around her and can overwhelm her grandchildren with piles of presents. As a matter of fact, my parents often have to bring a trailer with them to tote the presents when visiting my brother’s family.

Unlike my mom, I have never been one to appreciate shopping. I don’t like the challenge of stores, crowds, or trying to find deals. I dread searching for the perfect gift, although I admittedly love giving the perfect gift. (I secretly wish there was a gift fairy that would provide the perfect gift idea and, of course, the means for acquiring the gift with as little effort as possible.)

This year, my family has been struggling with the idea of a Christmas gift exchange. My sister-in-law and I, independently and unbeknownst to each other, suggested to my mom that we refrain from exchanging presents this year. My brother’s family lives comfortably and doesn’t need anything, whereas I am in a financial situation that doesn’t allow for much extra spending this holiday season.

My sister-in-law and I admitted that instead of presents we just wanted to spend time together: playing games, eating a meal together, watching It’s a Wonderful Life, etc.

My mom was horrified by our suggestions and suspected we were ganging up on her. To my mom, giving gifts is a way for her to show her love. I didn’t want to argue with her, because I didn’t want her to feel like she had nothing to give.

The day after I informed my mom that I would like to abstain from Christmas gift giving this year, I learned about the Advent Conspiracy at Blackhawk and felt a sense of relief.

It gave me an idea. Maybe we, as a family, could shop for another family. Each of us would donate what we could and then spend time wrapping presents as a family? It would mean each one of us would be compromising a little of our own plans for the season. But after all, can we really understand what sacrifice is until we make sacrifices?

As a bonus, there wouldn’t be the pressure to find the “perfect” gift, just loving gifts. Best of all, the gift of time could be our present to one another.

I honestly don’t know what this Christmas season will be like. It may bring unity to my family or it may cause more of that dreaded stress and annoyance. But I look forward to seeing what happens and if our lives change because of the experience.

My prayer is that this holiday season will be about experiencing love as a family and spreading that love to others in need. We need to give love in order to make room to receive love and ultimately understand the greatest gift of love we’ve ever been given.

Written by Amy Bayer

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Love All

Act Local: Share gifts of time and resources with those in our community. At the Impact Tree in the Atrium, find opportunities available for individuals, families and life groups. All the information you need will be on the cards by the Tree. Take a card – put an ornament on the tree.

Give Global: On Sunday, December 13 during services, we'll take up an Advent Conspiracy offering (a direct result of spending less) to give towards clean water projects and wheelchair needs in Honduras, Kenya and Romania. If you won’t be able to join us at services on that day but still want to participate, just write "Advent" in the memo of your check and drop it in any of the offering boxes.


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