Historically the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas is to remind us of the presents the Wise Men gave to Jesus. They were Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh. These valuable items were standard gifts to honor a king or deity, Gold as a precious metal, Frankincense as perfume or incense, and Myrrh as anointing oil.
The Christmas holiday has evolved over the years becoming a time for family and friends to get together and exchange gifts. There are many different traditions and beliefs around the world surrounding the holiday, but the common thread is a gift exchange.
What Did You Get?
The four-word question will begin popping up over this week and early next week as we return to work and school. Family, friends, classmates, and co-workers will ask “What did you get?” Looking to hear and compare great gift stories from Christmas. Children often prepare wish lists for the Holidays. Retailers create wish books to highlight the latest toys and hot gadgets for the season. Bloggers create gift posts, highlighting inexpensive gifts for those on your shopping list.
So, going in there is a certain level of expectation that is set. It’s an innocent question what did you get? But when thinking about being asked the question myself, it now seems a bit inappropriate. Let me explain.
It depends on who’s asking, most are just being polite and have a general curiosity to know what gifts you received, but for some asking the questions I think it’s a bit of competition, let’s compare gifts and see who has the best stuff type attitude. Depending on the outcome it could leave the questioner envious, and that’s not in the spirit of the season.
Sure, as a child I was into tallying present numbers, the more, the better. I did this because I didn’t know any better, as I got older and understood the value of things that thinking shifted.
Now being debt free I think it has shifted again. Having the means to budget and purchase wants there’s no need for the big wish list at the end of the year. It’s more about providing quality, experience over quantity. So, when people ask me what did you get this year, they may be surprised at my answer.
What Did You Give?
I’m going to approach the “What did you get” question differently again this year. Sure, I’ll answer if asked, but my reply will be “What did you give?” I think this question just by swapping the “get” with a “give” should provoke a better response. I know I would much rather share the stories of the gifts I gave and happiness I provided to others then tell you about my new shirt.
Yes, we exchange gifts with immediate family, and more recently more gift cards. We’d like to avoid gift cards altogether, but they have become convenient for teenagers who like to shop for themselves.
We, however, have had the opportunity to give to others outside our immediate family a few times so far, this season and it’s been tremendous. Our family donated lots of non-perishable food items to multiple food drives and pantries this year. We helped a friend in need of a place to stay for a bit. I regularly donate blood, and I always feel good after doing so. I have been volunteering my time over the last few years in several venues to try to increase financial literacy in my local area.
Random acts of gift giving or random acts of kindness can be the best type of giving because they are unexpected. Will you help a friend, neighbor, or complete stranger in need? Or maybe just put a smile on someone face today. I think you will find great joy in doing so.
Please join me in the “What Did You Give” movement? Use the hashtag #whatdidyougive to share your best giving experience this year.
Please comment below on you best what did you give moment this season.
Wishing you a very Merry Chrismas and Happy New Year!
Postscript – Some of my fellow bloggers have been inspired to talk about their own #actsofkindness. Thanks to Foreign Born MD for kicking off the chain! If you want to join in, just write your own post on this subject, and head over here to the Rockstar Finance Forums to help spread some kindness this holiday season. Or check back here often to see everyone who’s joined in!
Anchor: ChiefMomOfficer – I’m Sick of Christmas Materialism Instead Let’s Make a Difference10
Link 2: ForeignBornMD – Holiday Season, Giving Back4
Link 3: Kiwi and Keweenaw Simplifying through #ActsofKindness – Kiwi and Keweenaw1
Link 4: Physician on FIRE – A Quarter Million in DAFs: A Retirement Goal Achieved
Link 5: Budget on a Stick – An Unexpected Gift #actsofkindness
Link 6: Working Optional – Thankful For What I Have Received
Link 7: Mama Fish Saves – Top Charities To Get Kids Involved In Giving
Link 8: Grounded Engineer – Giving Thanks and Why I’m Considering a Donor Advised Fund
Link 9: 99to1percent – Giving Thanks and the 6 Gifts that Keeps Giving2
Link 10: Sarah – One Small Thing1
Link 11: Good Life. Better. – The Best Thing You Can Give Your Family? Kindness1
Link 12: Downsize Your 2080 – Think Outside the Christmas Gift Box3
Link 13: The Three Year Experiment – The Best Christmas Gifts for That Person Who Has it All
Link 14: Spills Spot – Use Your Platform to Help Others
Link 15: Millionaire Doc – Volunteerism. #Acts of Kindness
Link 16: Atypicallife – Holiday Season Acts of Kindness
Link 17: WealthRehab – ‘Tis the Season for Giving
Link 18: AnotherSecondOpinion – Giving Back