A Re-imagined Christmas List


I’m kind of at my wits’ end with Christmas lists. Are there things we’d like? Sure. Are there things we need? Not so much. But still we go through the process every year of looking through catalogs, daydreaming, and scrolling to find just those additional things to fill our house to (over)capacity.

So why then do we make Christmas lists? Certainly we are honored by loved ones who choose things that they think we’d like or might need. And sometimes there are things that we wouldn’t buy for ourselves but are still nice to receive.

But in light of that, how do I raise children who are not focused on material possessions when each year we get to make a list of what we want and give it to people to buy for us?

I’ve been challenged to start a new tradition. A new kind of Christmas list.

We plan to sit down with our kids and ask each of them to make a new list, a list of at least three things that they’d like for us to do for someone else, someone who is not part of our family. Something big.

We would do the same and we’d then compile all the lists into a “Family Christmas List,” choose one item to do on Christmas Day, and complete the rest of the family list by the next Christmas. Now that’s a Christmas list! 

Now of course, upon having this revelation, my first (fully and sinfully human) thought is, “What if my child wants to give a million dollars to a homeless man? I’m going to have to tell him that we don’t have a million dollars to give. And maybe the man wouldn’t spend it right. And maybe there are others who need it more.”

But shouldn’t I just be happy that my child would be so generous as to have that intention?

And shouldn’t I realize that God could easily provide the means by which to give someone a million dollars? I mean, the recent Powerball was what? 550 million? And that surely wasn’t even God….

I write, dear friends, so that this intention will not remain just that, an intention, but instead flourish into an action and then, a tradition.

So who will make a new Christmas list with us? Or who else has a tradition of particular acts of service around Christmas-time?

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