Friday, November 21, 2014

A Holiday Season with Meaning: Giving Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh + the Family Stocking

*I was a bit hesitant to share this, simply because there are so many ways to celebrate Christmas in a Christ-honoring fashion that I didn't really know if one more was necessary. But recently, I've had several people ask me what we do for gifts for our family, so I thought I'd put it here for anyone who was interested.....

The Christmas after Ghana's first mall was built in the capital was not pretty.
Up to that point, buying anything nice for Christmas gifts was outrageously expensive.
Plus, we were a young couple with one baby.
Christmas, up to that time, had been pretty quiet affairs.
But then the mall got built,.......
and availability of toys went up,......
and prices of toys went way down,.......
and we now had a five-year-old and a two-year-old,......
and some of the stores accepted credit cards,.......
and we went hog-wild.
That's an embarrassing admission, but totally true.
{And necessary for the rest of this to make sense.}

John and I couldn't wait 'til Christmas morning!
I thought our girlies eyes would pop out of their heads when they came into the front room.
There were packages everywhere!
But something strange happened.
About a third of the way into the gift-opening, the girls started flagging, and by two-thirds of the way through, they were getting grumpy, and by the last few, one if not both of the girls were crying.
By the time everything was opened, they just sat there dazed, until one of them started playing with the torn shreds of wrapping paper.
It was too much.
It was our worst Christmas ever.

The next Christmas was a bit better, but we still were drifting, unsure of exactly what we wanted our Christmas as a family to look like.
One day I stumbled across an idea {I'm not even sure where now} that seemed like what our family had been searching for.
I ran it by hubby, and he agreed.
We shared the idea with the kiddos to get them used to it, and then the next Christmas we made the switch.
It was our first best Christmas as a family,
and every year since then has just gotten better!

Since the idea of giving gifts at Christmas can be traced to the gifts brought by the Wise Men, we used that as our pattern.
Now each family member gets three gifts:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Gold is a gift of great value.
We take our time during the year thinking about the one nice thing that the individual would really like.
An instrument to learn to play. A collection of games. A bike. A trip.

Frankincense is a spiritual gift.
Anything that can encourage Christian growth is included in frankincense.
A Bible. A devotional. A notebook. A Christian biography. A book by a favorite Christian author. A Patch the Pirate CD.

Myrrh is a gift for the body.
As this is a gift for the body, it is quite broad.
New clothes. New shoes. A Piece of Jewelry. Perfume. A coat.

We also have a Family Stocking.
On our first furlough, John's family gave us Christmas in July before we returned to the field.
Our family was given one giant stocking.

Our family stocking holds gifts for the whole family.
New family movies. Board games. Card games. Lego sets. Craft supplies. Shadow Puppets.
Anything the family can enjoy together!

We enjoy our Christmases so much more now than we did before.
Our gifts have meaning, Christmas doesn't break the bank, and it helps turn our eyes off of the 'stuff ' and onto enjoying celebrating Christ's birth as a family!


  1. I like it! I much prefer family gifts, honestly. I had never heard about the gold, frankincense and myrrh thing before, though. Very cool! We gift similarly, but not for those reasons. It is definitely an idea to consider. Thanks for sharing it! :)

  2. Lovely, Patty! I have never heard of this "outline" for gifts before, but it is so easy to remember. I really like this. It takes some of the craziness out. Thank you for sharing.