As a kid, you may have poured over the catalogs or paid close attention to the toy commercials and advertisements, and put together a wish list of gifts you hoped would be under the tree on Christmas morning. Marybeth Hicks, author and speaker on parenting and faith, suggests that you might want to set aside the practice of Christmas lists with your family this year.
Hicks didn’t do Christmas lists with her kids. “I just felt like the materialism around Christmas is hard enough to keep at bay, but when you literally invite them to consider how materialistic they could be,” it becomes even more difficult, says Hicks. Encouraging them to think about all the things they want can also set them up for disappointment and lack of gratitude when they don’t get everything they requested.
Instead of asking them what they would like to receive, she had conversations with them explaining, “You have to trust that the people who love you know you well enough to give you a gift that you would love or appreciate. And even if you get gifts that you don’t super love, gratitude is reflected in the fact that somebody took the time and effort to buy something or make something for you.”
This can also be a “great way to teach children about how God answers prayer,” explains Hicks. We pray for God to answer all of our prayers for our kids and our loved ones and ourselves, but ultimately, the prayers are answered the way God feels they ought to be answered, and “it’s ironically not necessarily the things we put on our list.”
Most parents know what their kids would put on a Christmas list without asking them. “As a parent, I always got the most fun out of really delighting my kids with stuff that they didn’t necessarily ever think of that they would want,” says Hicks.
Putting aside the Christmas gifts this year may be a great lesson for the whole family on gratitude and trust. It will also help to keep everyone focused on the true meaning of Christmas, celebrating the birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.