three gifts

Attention, stepmonster-haters…
This is a post about how this Momma grinch stole Christmas.

Our big boys have lots of family nearby, which is a huge blessing. But it tends to get very busy during the holidays with all of the meals, transportation, and gift-giving. By the time we all sat down to exchange presents at our own home that first Christmas, it was almost 10pm. The boys were tired & gifted-out. It felt anti-climactic. On top of that, they were getting bombarded with blessings from every angle… mom, dad, step-parents, grandparents, even step-grandparents. After our first married holiday season, we decided our system needed an overhaul.

Somewhere along the way, I’d read about the idea of giving children three presents each for Christmas. I thought it was a neat way to teach the significance of the gifts from the magi at the birth of Jesus, while keeping a cap on expectations & budgets. We presented the idea to the boys, as I certainly didn’t want them to think I’d come into their family and taken over how much fun they were allowed to have on Christmas. Thankfully, they were totally into the concept!

The next year, each boy received two presents and their third was shared. It was a rather large & expensive item. They had so much fun opening it together that we decided to do the same thing again, and it’s just kind of stuck – two for each boy, and a big one to share.

Since we’ve made the switch, they’ve never looked back. They’ve always been enthusiastic and gracious. Nobody has complained or asked why there aren’t more presents under the tree. We try to really make it count by listening to them and getting them what they desire, as well as surprising them with things throughout the year. I promise, these boys don’t want for much.

This year, we’re doing things a little differently. Earlier this fall, we sat the boys down and explained our church’s endeavors for this Christmas season. We told them that we wouldn’t be getting the three babies anything for Christmas, as they don’t need much & wouldn’t remember it anyway. We also asked for their blessing to use some of their Christmas money to support the project. 
Avery nodded his head and expressed the desire to shop for toys for other kids. Lucas listed off a few surprises he’s received in the last few months and said he didn’t really need anything this year. It’s those moments, y’all. The ones where the Lord taps on your heart and says, “See what I am doing?”

Each boy still has two gifts under the tree. They’re pretty sweet, too. It’s fun to watch these boys grow and develop their own passions and hobbies. Their third gift, however, is an ornament from our church. They’ll each open one on Christmas morning, as a representation of the money and effort they’ve put into this Ridge Church project. 
Fourteen different families will each have a sweet Christmas, complete with pre-lit trees, decorations, presents for kids, presents for caregivers, household items, even furniture and appliances. The boys got to participate in every step leading up to this. They’ve shopped for toys, they’ve eaten pancakes at a fundraiser, and they’ve played with kids to distract them while their parents shopped for & wrapped gifts in the next room. 
These boys have helped us do for one fourteen what we wish we could do for all, and we couldn’t be prouder.

10 thoughts on “three gifts”

  1. Those are the sweetest boys.

    I love the three gift idea, by the way. You know I don’t have kids yet, but when we do, I think we will do this from the beginning. It’s beautiful, and just another way to bring Christmas back to what we really celebrate– Jesus.

  2. your post just filled my heart to overflowing and made me cry, what a wonderful tradition you have started and I love watching the sweet seeds of selfless service you’ve planted in your boys hearts grow. I hope to be able to teach this to Judah

  3. I love your approach and it is super cool that the boys are so into helping others. You guys have great kids! Since I have a big family that loves to shower my girls with gifts all year long, especially at Christmas, my husband and I keep things modest. With their first Christmas, we decided that each year the girls would get a book from us and a toy from Santa. They also get new jammies on Christmas Eve and an ornament from St. Nick in early December. That’s it. All other gifts are from the rest of the family, and if my mom and siblings don’t give them much, that’s is ok. I want my children to appreciate what they have, and too many gifts isn’t the way to do that (in my opinion). Also, at 19 months old, Clarissa and Veronica are pros at putting money into the Salvation Army kettles and starting next year we’ll bell ring with them. We are firm believers in being happy with enough, rather than living a life of wanting more and more, and we want that for our children, too. I’m going to remember the three gifts/Magi concept when they get a little older, too. I love the idea of connecting gift giving to the Bible.

  4. I love this. It’s our desire for our kids to know that God is a Father that loves to give good gifts to his children but also want to find that balance in having Christmas not be an all out consumer fest and focused on the things of God’s heart. So before we even had kids we decided we wanted to keep Christmas really simple, but surprise our kids with good gifts all year. I love that Lucas recognized his surprises and was wanting to give in the same way that had been given to him. I can only hope my little’s will one day have the same attitude and heart!

  5. LOVE IT! We have actually decided to donated gifts to the hospital. Liam still plays will all the toys he was spoiled with last year and having spent a majority of the holidays in the hospital last year We want the children there to feel the celebration of the season.


  6. this is EXACTLY what my heart needed to see today. seriously. thank you so much for not only caring enough about those in need to change your family dynamic towards a greater good, but for also leading your kids by example and putting ideas into action!! what an incredible gift to all those families you’re helping, and also to your kids. great work, mama!!!


  7. Typical step “mother.” “I’m not spending my money on *her* kids!” Being cheap under the guise of a “lesson.”

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