How To Keep Christmas Meaningful

Christmas is upon us yet again. Although the event is associated with celebration, it can be a nightmare for some families. Christmas has become so commercialised over the years, that it has lost its true meaning. As we approach the festive season, we’ll be mercilessly bombarded with adverts of expensive toys and gadgets that promise to make our children deliriously happy and the envy of their friends. As a result, our youngsters are programmed to expect gifts, despite the financial situation of the family. 
The responsibility lies with us parents to ensure that we instil family values that will stand the test of time. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” How do we apply this Scripture in the real world? Following are a few practical suggestions:
1 Establishing a family culture
Take some time to ask your children what Christmas means to them. Seek to understand their perspective, before you give them yours. This will grant you the opportunity to understand their viewpoint and to iron out any misconceptions. It is important that you help them to see that the birth of Jesus is primarily the reason for the season. The giving and receiving of presents should be considered secondary. Try to emphasise that their worth and value as people stems from who God says they are and not from their possessions. Other people’s opinion of them doesn’t alter how the Lord sees them, nor does it erode their worth and value in any way. 
2 Can we afford the gifts you want?
If you foresee your family struggling to splash out on Christmas celebrations as in the years past, it is important to communicate this to your children. Be willing to answer their questions (trust me, there will be many). This may also be a good time to speak with your children about the difference between needs and wants. Our needs are the things necessary to keep us alive, such as food, water, clothes etc. Our wants are the extras we like to have to make life more enjoyable. Christmas presents fall under the ‘wants’ category. If our basic needs aren’t met, borrowing money for our wants won’t benefit the family, especially when you have to pay back with interest. 
3 What options do we have?
Get creative by making your own gifts. Homemade gifts are not only original and unique, but have sentimental value! They are also far more likely to be used and appreciated by the receiver. Sure, you may have to purchase the materials, but it will definitely be the cheaper option. Remember to take a list with you when you go shopping. The benefits are three fold: It will keep you focused, prevent you from buying things you don’t need, and stop the kids from throwing tantrums (please communicate beforehand that you’ll only be purchasing the items on the list). 

ANNIE CHISAMBO is the author of ‘How To Budget With Your Pocket Money’ and a teacher of money matters. For more info: