Saturday, January 2, 2010

Gifts that continue to Give

I’ve been tossing up whether or not to post this blog so I’m putting it up but I may just remove it again. We’ll just see how we go.

For the last two years we’ve given Gifts of Compassion to extended family members. Last year it was like an add on gift, and this year it was the main gift with a little something attached. I was somewhat disappointed when most of the family opened the Compassion card to discover we’d given them a goat, a chicken or a taxi licence and read it like it was just another Christmas card. Some of them looked disappointed. It was like they were expecting more.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on this over the last week and I’ve decided not to give this style of gifts to our extended family next year. I will keep these gifts for our children, myself and hubby. Maybe I’m simply pushing my passion onto my extended family too much.

I know my idea of a great gift isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I love everything about Christmas and that we give gifts because God gave us Jesus. But gifts are where Christmas sometimes gets me down a little. I like to give to my favourite charities at this time of year but I still have to keep within a budget. I guess gifts that keep giving like Compassions ‘Gifts of Compassion’ in my eyes are a win win deal.

Yes my husband earns good money but we have only got one income, college fees, four children and a cat. I ask myself, should I pull back in giving to charities just so we can give gifts that family are asking for? Am I being stubborn or selfish in not giving them their wishes because I want to give to my charities? Is a gift a gift when it’s not what the receiver wants to receive? Has our society commercialized Christmas so much that only the expensive self indudging gifts carry any value? Am I doing what my sister does and simply over thinking this one too much?

Please tell me, what are you honest, raw thoughts on gifts that continue to give?


  1. I'm thankful that my family (especially my parents) are more touched by a gift to others on their behalf/in their honor than another stuff swap.

    This year as I wanted to (and for the most part, did) spend our entire Christmas budget on gifts for families served by a local ministry. BUT I was still overwhelmed by how many gifts the Pea received from grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. I'm going to box half of them up and save them for next year's toy giveaway. :)

  2. We have given these type of gifts (usually through TearFund) to family members on a number of occasions, and always seem well received.

    My parents, now in their 70's, are very practical, and for the last few years have specified a missionary and charity they would prefer we donate to instead of buying gifts for them.

    They say if they needed it or wanted it they would have bought it by now, they don't want anything that needs dusting, and anyway - it would be ours again soon anyway, so they are saving us the bother!!! - as I say - very practical!

  3. Michelle - I think it was a lovely gesture, and I'm sorry you didn't get a better reaction.

    Because we live interstate from family, we don't "do gifts" for eachother. (Although, most of them will send something for the kids.) I'd much rather receive a nice card. I don't need more stuff. And quite frankly, neither do our boys, but some of them get offended if we say not to buy anything, and I can understand they want the kids to have a gift when they don't see them all that often. But if they really wanted to buy me something, I'd rather they give a donation on my behalf.

    I've been thinking about this a lot. I'm very concerned our kids think money grows on trees, and telling them a hundred times about starving children in Africa just doesn't seem to sink in. They need to see it for themselves, OR we need to find a way to show how important it is to help others. They attend a Catholic school, and of course, they do a lot of events during the year to teach them about fundraising for others less fortunate, but I've been slack in just handing over the money to them. This year, I intend to have them "earn" their donation around the home.

    I think there's more we can do, and I think your idea is a lovely one.

    Thanks for this post. Don't remove it. It's an important message. x

  4. I agree with you. I think Christmas has become a time of too much... of excess... of over spending. Hubby and I have already decided next Christmas we'll be doing a no cents gifting... and will be hoping family and friends join us. I just think people have lost sight of things... it's about love and giving and togetherness... not who buys the biggest, spends the most, then rushes off on boxing day to spend more in the sales... keep the post, it's a good one.
    Oh, and I'm with you on the over thinking!

  5. Yup _ I agree totally - two years ago I did the Oxfam gifts - And got very similar reactions from two or three members of the family, and "wow that is so cool' from the teenage ones - they got it and appreciated it.
    We've now started doing Kris Kringle with a limit of $20 for all family members except the little kids - and it works, someone gets something they NEED (requests are allowed) and it saves on the consumerism.
    Keep the Post - ti is true and real.
    There is way to much about getting out there, not the thought behind it.

  6. The general principle that I follow is that a well chosen gift shows that you care enough to pick something that matches the giftee's needs, values, and preferences.

    I love the idea of giving things that really help a family in need, like that goat. But I also love finding things that a particular friend or family member will use and love and treasure. Something that will remind them of my care for them throughout the year.

    I suspect there's a lot of ways to give gifts that don't just add to clutter or celebrate materialism, and that these gifts of compassion are only one of those.

    Maybe there's a way to honor your values and to help them feel that you care more about them than some random family that needs a goat.

  7. Hey, thank you all so much for you words of wisdom. Really appreciate you taking the time for such thoughtful comments. :) xx

  8. Hi Michelle, I believe you should give what you feel like giving and not conform to anyones ideals. This year I purchased gifts for people then changed my mind and instead just had my children send cards and gave photo books of the past years events for the grandmas. It was perfect! Most people have more than enough already and those that truly desire the material things can work harder to get them IMO.

  9. Well, being one of the gift recipients...I hope you know I thought it was a beautiful gift (I was only cranky I didn't have anything for you! ;) ) Don't stop doing what you're doing. You have a precious, giving heart and the world needs people like you. If they don't get it...hmph...their loss, someone's (much more deserving's) gain.

    PS Is my over-thinking rubbing off on you??? ;)

  10. I think that those gifts are a very good idea!
    You might consider homemade gifts for the extended family next year if you think they were disappointed; and if that still disappoints then just go back to charities cause that way at least the people you're helping will appreciate it! :)

  11. This year I went for small, simple but thoughtful gifts for our family. I wasn't sure what the reaction would be, especially when I found out that some of our family members had spent much, much more money on us. I was however, surprised that they were all happily excited to receive these small tokens and to me it felt like the occasion became more about the time we had to spend together, rather than the gift. I say, give what you want to give. If they cannot be gracious in accepting your gift, they are the ones with the problem.

  12. I couldn't agree more! You might like to read this post too which has links to interesting places.

    I know though that my MIL would not be impressed if I gave her a goat- so we try and cut back...etc but the thing is the gift giving is pretty meaningless- as in people don't often need anything- but she won't agree to just not get each other we get a gift just for the sake of it.
    In my family - we all agreed one year not to bother with gifts (except for our kids and then something small)- but to go out for a meal or something together and enjoy each others company

  13. I think that what you're doing is a great idea. But if the receivers don't share your passion, they won't like or understand the gift.

    However, that doesn't make it your problem. A gift is something given in love and kindness, something that comes from the giver's heart.

    In today's 'give me the next biggest and best' gift though, gifts of charity are often scorned. That doesn't mean there's a problem with the gift or the giver.

    Next year, just give a smile ; - )


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