Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Our high standard of living is what prevents our high standard of giving.

I have been a big time slacker in digesting and then sharing my notes from this past Sunday's service. But I have thoughts that I really want to get out. Really, some thoughts that I need to get out. 

I mean in no way for this post to be preachy. As with everything I write, I write it 99.9% for my family and me, but if even 1 more person can find value in it then that is all the better, right? Right. So, with that being said there is one quote that really jumped out at me during church on Sunday. 
"Our high standard of living is what prevents our high standard of giving."
That totally hit me because it is so true. 100%, non-debatable true for those of us who even have the opportunity to write and/or read this post. It's a truth that I immediately started to mull around in regards to the upcoming holiday season. With a quick google search I learned that the average American family spends approximately $1,000 on Christmas. This includes gifts, clothing, food, beverages, etc. This costs doubles to $2,000 for those families who travel during the season. This is for the average American family. Average! Which means there are many of us who probably spend much more. 

A second quick google search tells me that there are approximately 112 million households in the US. A third google search would probably do the calculation that my tired and over-stimulated mind is not willing to do at this hour, but we can all assume that ~$1,000 multiplied by 112 million households equates to A LOT of money flying around in the month of December.

And this money. Where is it going? Well, mainly on gifts. Gifts to each other. People with money to spend are spending money on people who have money to spend. Say that three times fast! Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE giving gifts. I love the thrill in thinking of the most perfect gift to give someone I love and then watching them open it. There is something very magical about that. My point, however, is that... well, I have 4 actually:

1. I think we may over do it. We, in my opinion, tend to take the magic out of the spirit of giving by over-giving. We seem to go for quantity over quality. We take the personal touch out of it by making lists of things we want and handing it out to our loved ones. What is the point in that? If you want it badly enough to tell someone about it then just go and buy it. Telling me what to buy you is not me giving you a gift. And to top it all off we put a first filter on our gift giving with a dollar amount... how many times have you thought "okay, I need to buy a $30 gift for so-and-so." I hate that. It's like putting a little price tag on that magical moment I mentioned above. Again, what a magic-sucker. 

2. We are spending that crazy amount of money mentioned above on people who in reality don't need any more stuff. On people who we love dearly and who in reality would probably be totally fine (and maybe even happier) with just spending some true quality time with us this season versus focusing all of our time together on opening gifts. Or maybe that's  just me, I don't know. Going back to the quote I referenced above... our high standard of living is what prevents our high standard of giving... all of that money that is going to be passed around this holiday season, wouldn't it be beautiful if we cut back on how much we spend on gifts and instead give that money away to people who actually need it? 

3. Maybe my memory is failing me at the ripe age of 26, but I honestly can only remember in detail 3 of the gifts I was ever given for Christmas as a child. I remember a karaoke machine and a bicycle and my first puppy, Holly. That is it. That's not to say that I didn't get some great stuff, but the point is that what I do remember are the memories. The priceless, amazing, beautiful memories that in fact have nothing to do with the stuff I got. 

4. Most importantly, all of this craziness with all of the gift-giving and shopping chaos in my mind does 2 things: A. it makes everyone stressed out and exhausted. Running from here to there and back and forth and checking this off of your list and stressing about what to make and what to get so and so. It's chaos. AND B. it is all the biggest distraction ever for the real reason behind the season. It's funny, I can find in 1-2 clicks of my mouse all of the stats I need on who plans to shop where and with how much money this holiday season, but when I tried to find how many people plan on going to a church service to honor baby Jesus it was nearly impossible to get a straight answer. Who wants to play a bet on what is a bigger percentage: the number of people planning on shopping multiple times over the holidays or the number of people planning on worshiping? Sad, huh?

Do with these thoughts what you want. Do nothing at all if you wish. The point for me was to ground myself in what I really want the holidays (and every day, really) to be about for Jackson throughout his childhood and hopefully throughout his lifetime. I have already exhausted my post length for today, but I am going to brainstorm "out loud" on here in the coming days on how I can put these thoughts into practice with holiday traditions that are nothing short of extraordinary and completely unordinary in that showering my little man with gifts will not be the star of the show. 


  1. Like you, I can't remember every gift I was given as a child. What I CAN remember, as more of an "adult child" is the delight my mom takes in giving us those gifts. Do we need them? sometimes. My birthday was all about "practical" gifts for my kitchen this year. But sprinkled in was a game for the Wii, just so I remember to relax. Yes, the "average" family is spending too much, but that also accounts for the multi-billionaires.

  2. With Christmas fast approaching, I was just thinking about this myself. You are so right about not remembering childhood gifts. Of all the years of growing up, I remember 2 gifts: my seahorse purse when I was 12 and a childhood Bible. My budget this year for my immediate family (2 daughters and husband) is $300. I'm baking everyone else some delish cookies. :) Thanks for sharing your post. I loved the quote!

  3. Great thoughts! I have been thinking a lot about making this Christmas different now that we are influencing a little one in our home too!


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