It's Good That It's Hard
by Marcy Lytle

As I’ve gotten older, and even some when I was younger, I’ve heard friends talk about how they eventually quit giving gifts at Christmas, and just make it all about the kids.  I don’t like that.  At all.  And while it saves on the budget, and I get that, there are all sorts of things that are wrong about just stopping gifts among family members, spouses, and friends.  It may be an unpopular opinion, and it probably is, but I think gift giving should be something we continue to do…for SO MANY reasons.

If the kids only get gifts, what does that teach them?  It’s good for them to see the adults give and receive, graciously give thanks, and be delighted in the giving, isn’t it?  If the kids are the only ones opening the presents, all they see is the tearing at the paper and the whining and the chaos, and no observation of how to be grateful…by watching their parents.


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If we say it’s too hard to think of what to get one another, then we should think harder.  Either we’re putting way too much pressure on ourselves (by trying to figure out the “perfect” gift), or we’ve placed this amount we need to spend in our head and that makes us sweat.  But what if we just loved our friends and noticed them, how they like gardening, and how she loves to bake, or he enjoys baseball…and we just thoughtfully got them a new tea towel, or gardening gloves or a bag of peanuts – simple and sweet!

If we also think it’s too hard to buy for our spouse, then we need to think again.  It’s good for gift giving to be hard, sometimes!  My brother-in-law notices his family throughout the year and makes notes of their likes, their comments, things they need (when he visits their home), so that he has a running list of options.  I love that!  But an older couple giving NO gifts because they don’t “need” anything?  NO.  We need to think of the hard things, go beyond our comfort zone, and find that little treasure to delight them.  And if they’re not delighted?  Then that’s their problem, and they need to sit among a crowd of those that do…and learn.

If the funds are low and we stop gift giving because of it, this is truly perhaps wise…for the budget.  But then again, we can do the hard thing and still give.  We can give of our time, if that’s more plentiful, we can write a personal card (with a pen!) and send it, we can set a bag of cookies on their porch.  Gift giving does NOT have to be about breaking the bank.  And if it seems we’re too busy, then we’re too busy.  Not giving anything is never an option.

By now, maybe you’re already screaming back at this article and disagreeing with this idea that it’s good that it’s hard.  That’s okay.  It’s just my opinion.  But for me, when gift giving becomes stressful it’s because I’ve made it that way.  Pressure to spend a certain amount, or get the perfect thing, hinders the joy of simply giving.  And it doesn’t have to be multiple gifts, it can be just one.  One little thing that took you a bit of noticing and caring and hard thinking…to make or buy or put together for them.

It’s not hard to buy a bag of chips and salsa, place them in a sack with a bow, and give to the Mexican snack lover – if that’s your husband or a friend.

It is hard to think of what to get that person who has it all – so take five minutes and write them a card of three things you love about them – and wish them a “Merry Christmas.” 

It’s sometimes difficult to give to those teens that only want expensive items you can’t afford.  If the funds aren’t there, sit down and have a talk.  And as a family, agree on alternatives for gift giving this year and give THANKS…

Maybe you just can’t give him a gift, because he never gives you anything.  Maybe there’s tension there.  Talk to him, or even make him a list of things you love…from which he can buy.  It’s hard for our spouses, sometimes, so help them out.  And love what they give…

Whatever you do, consider giving SOMETHING to those on your list, in your family, at your gatherings...young AND old.  And by all means, do not compare what you gave with what they gave…that’s never a good thing to do.

And guess what?  She may toss that card in the trash after she reads it, he may place that tool you thought he needed in the garage and never use it, and that family may let the bread you baked ruin before they eat it.  But…

You saw the good in the hard and you gave, and that’s what He saw and that’s enough.  And those kids you had in tow when you bought, wrapped, baked and gave…they saw it with their little eyes and will never forget that it’s good that’s it’s hard…to give…but we always give.