There's a lot of pressure on parents in our culture to spend big or go home when it comes to Christmas time. Parents feel like failures if they can't keep up with the culture's expectations for Christmas. They have to get their kids everything they want on the list. After all, that's what Christmas is all about, right?
Before Lydia and I started having kids we made several counter-cultural decisions. We decided that we weren't going to teach our kids to believe in Santa, because (spoiler alert!) HE'S NOT REAL! Christmas is not about Santa; it's about Jesus. Second, we decided to make Christmas about Jesus and not about giving and receiving gifts. In other words, we decided that we wouldn't give any gifts to our kids at Christmas. We decided that we would go big on their birthdays, but that Christmas would be all about Jesus. But there's another reason we decided not to do gifts on Christmas. Finances. We could see early on that the way many people spend money on Christmas gifts is just plain foolish. No other way to put it. They are busting the budget, going into debt, and stressing themselves out to buy non-essentials. Not smart. We decided that what Christmas had become in our society is not something we wanted to participate in.
And you know what, that doesn't make us bad parents. It makes us really good parents. Good parenting is not defined by how much you spend on your child for Christmas. It's defined by how well you train your child to fall in love with the true gift of Christmas -- Jesus Christ.
So to the parents out there, here's your permission to think outside the box. You do have to follow Jesus in everything, but you don't have to follow the culture's way of doing things. In fact, in most cases you probably shouldn't. Here's your permission to spend less this Christmas, because parenthood isn't about buying Christmas presents, it's about discipling our kids.