Teaching Your Children the Meaning of Christmas

the meaning of Christmas
Do you think Christmas has become too commercialized? Have we truly lost the meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior, and giving to others?  I want to share an experience that I had picking a child to sponsor from the Angel Tree in Walmart.  I sponsor a child from either Walmart or Kmart each year, but I choose to walk away last year without purchasing a gift.

Why because the children were asking for expensive game systems and games.  I did a calculation on at least 2 or 3 children’s wish list and they totaled hundred of dollars each. I could have selected a few items from the Angel’s card, but I was left wondering what we’re teaching our children.

You’re asking for charity that equates to hundreds of dollars and obviously feeling no guilt about the list you have submitted. I have sponsored a child for years, and that was the first year that I witnessed these types of items on their wish list. I felt bad that I walked away, but I was so shocked that I felt it was best for me to leave the store.  Can anyone say holiday stress?

I understand that many parents are out of work, and they will be unable to meet their children’s wish list.  But if you’re unable to buy expensive gifts don’t expect others to take up your slack. Our priorities in this country puzzle me.  We act as if someone owes us something, and it seems this type of thinking is being passed on to our children.

I understand the children want the latest toys and gadgets, but my thought is that their parents should try to buy these items used if possible.  My issue is about values, no more and certainly no less. Simply put, don’t pass the financial burden on to your fellow citizens who are trying to be charitable.    

To keep cost down during the holidays I started making many of my gifts.  Also, I buy clearance items at the end of the season for the following year.  I crochet and make scrapbooks and gift baskets for adult members of my family.  Also, I set a budget of $50.00 for each of the teenage children in the form of a mall gift certificate.

I don’t have time to bang my head trying to figure out what the teen would like. Can somebody say holiday stress again!  The siblings in my family stopped exchanging gifts years ago.  We only purchase for the children now.  That really helped eliminate holiday debt.  Furthermore, I have a Christmas Club where I set aside money each week throughout the year for my grandchildren’s gifts.  I host Christmas dinner or a gathering for my siblings, and I’m grateful for their company. That is gift enough for all of us.  I refuse to belong to the debt club. I relinquished my membership years ago, and I surely will not go into debt for someone else.

Parents get real because the world doesn’t owe you or your children anything.  We must learn to make our way in this great country.  If times get a little rough be grateful for any assistance you receive; however, don’t take advantage. Teach your children that the holidays are not only about receiving, but giving and spending time with family and friends.

Focus on keeping your children warm, keeping a roof over their head and food on the table. Coats, shoes, hats, gloves and necessities for school should be at the top of the lists if you’re seeking charity.  If you want a fellow citizen to purchase a toy or electronic item, it should be reasonable.   Just saying!

Finally, what’s your thoughts on the commercialization of Christmas? Do you go into debt on Christmas gifts? I would love to hear your opinion about the Angel Tree I encountered. Please leave us a comment.



  1. Like Lori above I am not very religious but that doesn't mean Christmas should be so insanely commercial either! We definitely set limits and most of the gifts are things someone really needs not just junk to buy a present. We refuse to go broke over Christmas anymore. For me the best part of it is the gathering of the family and sharing a wonderful meal — and lots of fudge!

  2. My first thought is that the reason you are in a position to be a "giver" is because you chose to live in a financially responsible way. Many, (but not all) could elevate themselves to your status by imitating the sensible budgeting and homemade gift giving practice you embrace.
    Years ago our church had an Angel Tree. I walked away from it too when I saw "Home Alone" video and "golf balls" listed. My friend is a manager at a social service agency. Toys For Tots Saturday always leaves behind an unwanted trail of books and educational board games.
    I agree with every word you wrote here!

  3. A comedian made a good point: basically we know Christmas is too commercial when you hear experts discussing how much money retailers will make this year for Jesus's birthday…then AFTER Christmas, they give a forecast on how little retailers make for Jesus's birthday, but hopefully they'll be able to turn it around in time for the celebration of Jesus's resurrection!

  4. I agree that Christmas is too commercial these days.  I remember sponsoring a (large) family and for $200 you could give them Christmas dinner and gifts for 4 kids and 2 parents.  I heard on the radio station about families they were trying to get sponsored.  The gift requests didn't even pretend to be practical.  Gift cards, ipods, and high end gaming system games for 8 year olds. Its hard to want to give of my time and money when my family doesn't have ipods and we only recently got one of the 'new' gaming systems and still have no games for it that didn't come with the system. I remember when a 'large' gift would cost maybe $20, not $100.

  5. I could not agree more. In fact, we were talking with my kids about Christmas and if they knew the meaning behind the holiday. My oldest is the first to respond with it's for getting presents.

    It seems no one talks about the meaning with their kids. They obviously aren't in school where we live. We've mildly talked about it at our home, but I see I have missed a very important lesson they need to learn.

  6. Absolutely I do! I personally am not religious, and therefore do not celebrate the "true" meaning of Christmas.. However, I do still enjoy the holiday season greatly, without the commercialization. We don't do many gifts in our family.. Hubby and I do one to each other, and we buy our son 1 or 2 gifts.. When our kids get a little older, we will all make each other one gift, and that's it.
    I do believe that children are becoming too materialistic, and expect tons of things "just because" it's Christmas (or whichever holiday they celebrate). I'm not saying parents shouldn't buy their children gifts, it just seems that parents (in general) need to do a better job of teaching graciousness, instead of greed..

  7. It may be new with the tree that kids are requesting pricier things, but it's up to the parents to teach the value. My BILs are very gimmee – and not just around Christmas. I also stopped exchanging with my sister, BFF and SIL since we all have kids, we shop for them. But we set a $$$ amount that we stay within. I might stop hopping for BILs next year, since they drive me bonkers with all the wants, missing the point that giving and family should be an all year thing.

  8. I think it has become too commercial. Last year I was real bad off and didn't sign my kids up for the angel tree but they knew their values and would have asked for sensible items. I wouldn't let them sign up for it if they were asking for $300 game systems. If you are struggling so much that you need to sign up your kids for the angel tree, chances are you might not even have a television. I think its up to the parents however to instill values into their kids and teach them the meaning of Christmas and what is important when you are struggling financially. No its not fun to tell your children no to their dream items but I would rather do that then let my children think that they need electronics when they might not even have a home.

    Sorry about the tangent Rhonda, I just wanted to say I agree with you!

  9. I think in many ways it has become too commercialized.  It's not the children's fault, they learn by example and it's the adults that are sending the wrong messages.

    I don't know how to fix it.

    My son and I make ornaments for family for Christmas, although we did buy a few toys for their 2 cousins. 

    As far as what my kids are getting under the tree and from family, it probably will be too much…but I'm thinking that I might have my son pick one or two of the toys he gets (unopened) and donate them.

  10. I'm surprised parents would even let their kids put those items on a wish list for a stranger to buy. My kids don't get huge Christmas gifts; they get gifts that are either reasonably priced or things they need. Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus' birthday not who gets the biggest, most expensive gift. I wouldn't have sponsored either if I had seen that kind of list.