Gifts is totally my love language and when it comes to birthdays and Christmas it's tempting for me to overdo it. I want my children to feel loved and blessed but not to become spoiled. This can be a tricky line to walk. In order to give ourselves, well me, some boundaries and to keep the focus on Christ we limit our children's gifts to three items. We base it off of the gifts the Wise Men brought Jesus: frankincense, myrrh, and gold
Frankincense is a resin obtained from Boswellia trees. The fragrant sap was often burned as incense during worhip services. In Exodus and Leviticus THE LORD commands the Israelites to burn Frankincense when they make certain offerings. Frankincense is also known for it's healing properties and THE LORD is the the ultimate healer.
"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." -2 Chronicles 7:14-
Therefore, our frankincense gift is something that will help our children love and know THE LORD more. Bibles are the obvious choice and both Mini Man and Little Lady are getting new ones this year. For young children I like the NIrV edition because it's a full text Bible but easier to read and understand. Some other frankincense gifts we've given: Adventures in Odyssey Bible Eyewitness, Light Keepers Ten Boys, ESV Action Bible, Little Lights Biographies, devotional His Mighty Warrior, and the devotional God...Should I be Baptisted.
Myrrh is also a resin, obtained from trees, and is known for it's healing properties. In biblcial times myrrh was used for purifcation and during the emblaming process. This gift from the Wise Men could have been a symbol of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus would someday make. Since myrrh was used for purification, I've heard of some families giving toiletry items as their myrrh gifts: new towels, perfume, bubble bath, etc. We instead focus on the sacrifice Jesus made - that his life was not his own.
This is hard concept for young children to grasp and we try to demonstrate it by giving them a gift to share - that even their presents are not theirs alone. In previous years our myrrh gifts have been magna tile blocks, board games, and family memberships to zoos or museums. This year, they will pick out a Compassion child to sponsor. Now that our children are older we will transition from gifts that they can share with each other to giving to those less-fortunate outside the home.
Gold is pretty simple, it is a metal of great worth. So our gold gift is a highly priced toy or item. This is the big item that they have been eyeing for awhile. Large legos sets have been a staple gold for Big Buddy the last couple of years. A couple years back we got Mini Man the Bluetrack and it's still one of his favorite toys. This year Little Lady is getting an American Girl doll.
Do you have any gift giving traditions?
*The above photo is via kaboompics.