During this time of the year, do you find yourself scratching your head trying to find that special gift for family and friends? Perhaps for weeks you have been asking your spouse, children, and grandchildren, “What do you want for Christmas?”

Gift giving is often hard because we are trying to find a gift that someone wants, doesn’t have, or one that we can afford. I can tell you that I cause problems for my family because I don’t have any “wants.” If I do want something, I would just buy it, or in reality, my “wants” would exceed their budgets. Indeed, I do not think I am alone.

Our children and grandchildren are not much different than us. Oh, yes, their “wanter” is larger. They have watched all the commercials ad infinitum, and their want list is often long and, may I say, “expensive.”

We say that Christmas is about giving, but if we are honest with ourselves, we can only practice that when we go “counter cultural.” Our children are bombarded with a constant barrage of targeted advertising that blinds them to the idea of giving and drives home the idea of getting. I don’t fault them. I also realize that it requires otherworldly super-Herculean actions on the part of adults to even attempt to break the “getting” mindset. I would suggest it is hard to even bring the “want” list into perspective.

I guess it is all in your point of view. Wanting toys for Christmas isn’t wrong, but somehow we must help our children learn two important lessons. The first lesson to learn is how blessed they are to have abundance and to have the luxury of wanting non-essentials. Secondly, we must teach our children the wonder and fulfillment that comes in giving. Our purpose is not to lay a guilt trip on anyone, but to engender thankfulness and generosity.

Polla was watching a news story recently that helps undergird my point. The story was about two elementary-aged girls who are in court custody. The reporter asked them what they wanted for Christmas. The oldest little girl said, “I want a home with my own bed and food.” Wow! Humbling! Certainly a different want list than most children have.

I think it is important to engage your children in giving to those in need during the Christmas season, whether it is filling a shoebox to be shipped to Africa, buying food items for food baskets for needy families, or purchasing toys to give to the plethora of help agencies that assist needy families with gifts. Involve your children in giving, not just getting.

Yet, I would think that the greatest act of giving during the Christmas season goes beyond toys, food, or other items for the needy. As believers, we know the greatest Christmas gift ever given was the gift of God’s Son in the manger of Bethlehem. Because our Father gave, we have the joy of knowing God personally, receiving absolute forgiveness of our sin, and eternal life.

So, I want to challenge you to use this Christmas season to give your children the gift of the Savior. Fill your Christmas with moments that focus on Jesus and God’s gift, not just on the gifts under the tree. Share with your children often, and in multiple ways, the story of Christmas that outdistances Santa Claus and toys.

Engage your children and grandchildren in giving your family’s greatest gift so that people around the world can hear the Good News of the Gospel found in the Christmas story. Let them join you in giving sacrificially to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Don’t just write your check, but show your children how to sacrifice so others may hear the Gospel. Let them see how it truly is “more blessed to give than to receive.”

Polla and I want to wish you a joyous and Christ-filled Christmas.