November 24, 2020
Several years ago when our children were young we had a Christmas that was for the record books. Our kids got so many presents they actually got tired of unwrapping gifts. We had to take a break so that they would be excited and polite to those who had blessed them. It was overwhelming. Afterward, they barely remembered who had given them their gifts and didn’t play with most of the toys after the first few weeks. It ended up being the most wasteful Christmas we could remember. Shortly after, I shared this story with a friend who shared a tradition she had adopted that helped her family with the excessive gift-giving.
Her tradition was that each child received the same number of gifts that Jesus did at Christmas.
“He is the King of Kings and only got three gifts, why should my kids get more?”
The gifts given were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. She explained to her children that they were different types of gifts meant for different things. My head was spinning with relief as she began to share how she started this tradition.
At the time when Jesus was born gold was given to royalty. It was a costly and precious metal. Gold is still a pricey thing to receive today. When the Magi (Three Wise Men) presented Jesus with the gift of gold it was to recognize him as the King of the Jews. The gold gift that I give to my children is their “big” gift. The costly gift or extravagant gift. It signifies they are children of the Highest King.
Frankincense was a gift given to signify Jesus’ divinity. It was burned as a fragrant offering in numerous religious ceremonies in ancient cultures including during the birth of Christ. The frankincense gift that I give my children is a spiritual or educational gift. I try to make this gift one that will inspire or encourage them. Whether it is to deepen their faith or sharpen a skill that they are uniquely gifted in.
Myrrh was often used to embalm bodies during the time of Jesus. It was a gift that foreshadowed he would die to save us. Myrrh was also used to anoint kings and burned as a fragrant offering in God’s Holy Temple. Because of the practical nature of myrrh the gift I give in this category is a practical gift.
This all made so much sense to me and helped me to justify fewer presents to my children in the following years. It helped us to save money too! While I wasn’t actually the sole gift giver of our record breaking Christmas I knew that I could play a role in being more intentional about how much “STUFF” we accumulated. Fast forward several years of doing this and my children now thoughtfully choose what they ask for in each of the gift categories. Recently, I added some financial barriers to the gift categories. For example, anything over $100 goes into the Gold category automatically. This REALLY helps them narrow what they want the most.
Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ. It is Jesus’ birthday. The fact that we GET gifts on His birthday is a testimony to God’s grace and generosity. This year consider reducing the volume of gifts you give to three purposeful and intentional gifts. Maybe this year you could try and give Jesus three gifts too! In my next blog post I’ll be sharing gifts to give to Jesus during Christmas. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!