The Trouble With Christmas Wish Lists

December 12, 2012 in Holidays

Christmas OrnamentsSometimes publishing posts make me nervous. What if I don’t communicate my heart well and you misunderstand? God has laid this on my heart so here goes: Last week, a post on Facebook shook me. It said something like, “We need to stop asking, ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ and start asking, ‘What will you give for Christmas?”  My first thought? That’s it. That’s the reason I have struggled for years with this Christian celebration turned national marketing blitzkrieg.

Since becoming parents, we have taken a few steps to reclaim Christmas:  we don’t include Santa Claus, we have a tree but all its ornaments are connected to the nativity, and every year, the girls and I pick out a different advent devotion and try to prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

My efforts to reclaim the holiday have helped me stay focused and enjoy the holiday season more. But my girls? They like all the things we do, but really the prospect of a wish list fulfilled is wildly exciting and easier to grasp than the significance of a baby born thousands of years ago. And if I am honest, I have spent most of my Christian life with one foot in both worlds: worshipingChristmas ornaments Christ  and carefully managing gift lists among relatives for maximum enjoyment or profit of my family. 

Sharing wish lists helps relatives buy gifts we might actually love rather than gifts we return or donate once the guilt wears away. But if my motives in sharing a list are selfish, does it matter? Christ came not for the healthy but for the sick. I am sick, so sick. I need Christ.

In creating the lists I lose focus and begin to look forward, sometimes for months, to asking for the perfect gifts rather than receiving Christ.  It isn’t the giver I want to reject but the process of list making I need to step away from. God provides my needs. And truly, all our needs were met in the cross. Loving gifts I may not like because the giver loves me is a habit I want to learn better.

The girls made wish list already this year. And I don’t think imposing the convictions God has laid on heart will bring anything but resentment. So next, Christmas, I will answer inquiries of “What do you want?” with a smile and a promise to love whatever is given to me.

And this Christmas? Well, the girls and I are asking, “What will we give?” And we are making plans. I can see their little hearts, now that they are 8 and 10, grasping deeper meanings as I let them wander Toy R’ Us picking out a toy they think a child on the Salvation Army tree might love. We purchase a telescope, an 80-inch doll, and a teddy bear that reads and then we drop them off at the table, inquiring about when they will be wrapped and if we can help.  And while I don’t think my family has Grinch -like hearts, still I imagined the Grinch as I prayed, who’s heart grew 3 sizes that day.

We have more brainstorming and planning to do as we try to GIVE this season. What will you give this Christmas?

Sharing today with Jennifer at God Bumps. Join us!


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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sweet Sarah December 12, 2012 at 6:20 pm

When I was younger, my grandmother always took me to shop for a child from our local Walmart’s Angel Tree. It was always such a fun experience for me, because while it’s great to get gifts, it’s even more fun to GIVE. Life lessons like that have to be taught hands on and early on, I think. Otherwise it’s just an idea that might never be acted on. I commend you for sharing this with your girls! 🙂



pruningprincesses December 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Hi Sarah, I took most of the month of December off of blogging. Sorry I am so slow to respond. We went to the mall this year and picked some kids off the angel tree, headed to Toys R Us and picked out the best, most expensive toy the angel tree kids had written down. It was fun. I plan to do this every year but am looking for more ideas of ways to give beyond our family. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


Amanda December 18, 2012 at 9:55 pm

We have an obsession here at our house. Once the list is filled out the kids (and okay maybe me too) obsess over the if, when, and who will get us the gifts we asked for. Thankfully, God gives us a chance; even while we are still sinful to SEE how sick we are, how bad we need Jesus. It provides a great opportunity to talk through our greediness and obsession!


pruningprincesses December 30, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Oh Amanda, I share the same obsessions trying to make sure I give different wish lists to different relatives. It is nuts. The great dilemma is people want a list. It makes them feel better to give something I actually want. But the process of making a list leaves me and my kids self centered and obsessed. Sweet Jesus, show us the way.


Erin H December 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Great post, Laura. It takes a steady push to fight the Christmas buying frenzy, and I still find myself caught up in it sometimes. Thanks for the thoughtful reminder of what’s important! (P.S. Your posts stopped showing up on my Google Reader; I thought you had stopped writing. So glad you’re still posting!)


pruningprincesses December 23, 2012 at 1:28 am

Hi Erin, I wonder why they aren’t showing up? I took the holiday season off. I needed a break. I haven’t taken a blogging break where I was actually not traveling in over a year. I love writing, but the break is lovely too. You can sign up to get posts in your email or if you like Pruning Princesses on Facebook all new posts show up there too…and on twitter. Merry Christmas!


QueenMomJen December 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Great post Laura. This year at the beginning of the holiday season before the tree was even put up we had the children write out a list. The list had items/gifts that they could give to Jesus this year. It was such a special experience and we did not make a Santa list this year. the list will stay posted all year. I think this is a keeper tradition for our family. I am your newest follower and so glad to have found your blog. I am the mother of 2 princesses, one more on the way and a little prince.


pruningprincesses December 30, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Jen, what a neat idea. What sorts of things did your kids write down? I am curious what kids can think of giving to Jesus since they can’t hand me a wrapped gift. Will you revisit the list a few times? Going to read more about your book….


QueenMomJen December 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm

They were simple things. I will make food choices, be kind to others, love my family more. They weren’t presents you could wrap, but were more promises. They will be for sure posted on the wall this year and revisited often.


QueenMomJen December 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Food choices, oops, I meant good 🙂


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