Why I Now Ask Children What They Gave Instead of Got for Christmas

As I write this blog post, I’m not sure I’ll actually publish it because it sounds so much like criticism, and I don’t mean to criticize. I like Christmas. I love Christmas. I love seeing a living room filled with presents; I love seeing the joy on children’s faces; I love the whole idea and reality of gift giving and receiving.

And therein lies the problem: receiving.

I’ve been concerned about emphasis placed on receiving gifts. Children write letters to Santa about what they want. They write lists to their parents of what they want. They go to the store and beg for what they want. There’s so much want. But, you know, Christmas isn’t about Santa and getting presents. It’s about the Savior and giving gifts.

You might think, if someone gives gifts, then someone else has to get them. But ask this question: what did you give for Christmas.

I actually tried this yesterday. I asked my niece what she gave for Christmas, and it was so unusual, so out of the norm when talking about Christmas presents, that she automatically started telling me about what she got for Christmas. I interrupted, emphasizing the “give.” And do you know what? She started talking more enthusiastically and thoughtfully about what she gave than she’d been talking earlier—and rather matter-of-factly, I might add—about what she got.

To me, the joy of Christmas is in giving a good gift. This might be a part of adulthood; you learn what’s important in life. However, I think we should try to teach this as early on as possible. Ask your kids or grandchildren or nieces and nephews what they gave. I think you’ll be surprised by what you hear.

Lizzy and the gift she gave for Christmas: a delicious collection of Kneaders goodies for Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Bonnie

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