We can hardly think of a Christmas without gifts: both in the giving and the receiving. Christmas is a unique festival full of merry making and gift-giving. The tradition of giving gifts in this season owes its origin to the Wiseman or “Magi” who came from the east of Jerusalem to greet the Christ child in the manger with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These Magi were wise men and their gifts were emblematic of tribute and worship. Though the Magi are associated more with the Feast of Epiphany on January 6, they can be regarded as the pioneers in the gift-giving tradition following the birth of Jesus. In America the tradition of gift giving is relatively still new. It came in with the introduction of St. Nicholas to America by the early Dutch settlers. At that time the giving of gifts at New Year was a common practice, especially among the English and the French settlers. But the combined German and Dutch influences over time caused all gift-giving to be carried out at Christmas.
The giving of gifts is supposed to create joy and fun but often has the opposite effect. Many Christmas celebrants, in the rush to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list, find themselves stressed and overwhelmed. And other shoppers find they are bored with the same type of gift giving year after year. If you fall into one of these categories there is help. Just keep your head cool. Turn on some perky holiday music. Get your favorite beverage and your Christmas list ready, clear your head, and here you go!
•To really personalize your gifts for the holiday season, consider adding something the recipient can keep to remind them of Christmas. Attach a personalized ornament to your gift; over the years the recipient will have enough to decorate their own tree. This makes a great long-term gift for kids who can then leave home with an entire assortment of ornaments to decorate their first adult Christmas tree. For a collector of the Nativity, consider a piece every year to build their entire set.
•For a family tradition, consider adopting another family or individual for a “Twelve Days of Christmas” gift giving. The poem can be easily re written to include the gifts you have chosen for the recipient, and the fun is leaving them anonymously and scurrying away into the dark! The recipient then has the fun of anticipating a small gift or treat for the twelve nights leading to Christmas.
•For a focus on more meaningful gifts, try the rule that includes no gifts unless they can be sewn, grown, baked or made. This leads the gift givers to be very creative in their gift choices. If you feel that you and your family simply do not need anymore gifts, consider giving each other charity gifts by donating to the recipient’s favorite charity or purchasing trees, animals or clean water (in the recipient’s name) for those from impoverished countries. These types of gifts can add a depth of meaning to the Christmas season.
•For a lot of fun among your family consider instituting a “Secret Santa” gift giving tradition. The entire family each draws names a couple weeks before Christmas. Then each family member is responsible for doing small acts of kindness for their gift recipient while remaining anonymous. Christmas morning when gifts are exchanged, the Secret Santa can then be revealed.
•Consider having your family and friends gather to help make gifts for the animal friends. Dog and cat treats can be made and delivered to everyone’s favorite pets.
•In addition, try making these bird cones and hanging them outside for a special gift for the birds that frequent your home.
You will need:
1 or more pinecones
1 container of peanut butter
1 bag of bird seed
A few bread twist ties
Take the pinecone and roll it in the peanut butter, then roll it in the birdseed covering all of the peanut butter, tie the twist tie to it and hang it off of a fence or tree limb.