Someone recently asked,
My family (extended…parents) are not thrilled (to say the least) that we will not be celebrating Christmas this year. I know this kind of conflict is common among new Torah observers. Our children are aware we will not be celebrating Christmas, but they’ve never gone without Christmas before. My husband and I have been praying and talking a lot about how we will approach the “no gifts” time with them. A feast observant church (but not necessarily fully Torah observant) that we attended briefly treats the Feast of Tabernacles as their time of celebrating with gifts. Although the Bible says this is a time of celebrating, we are torn between not wanting to “Christmasize” the Feast, but also not watching our children’s faces when they realize “no gifts, or only one gift” comes with our new practice of living out the Torah. I don’t want them to see Christmas as the more appealing option (as their flesh may easily think)…since in our culture we bought into the gift-giving season which unfortunately, as much as you try to put the focus on Christ, for the children, it ends up being on the gifts. So, is it appropriate to give gifts during the Feast, and if so, how do you prevent it from becoming anything different from Christmas other than the with the Feast traditions and a different time of year? I don’t want them to be resentful or feel they are getting a “bum deal” Also, how do you handle grandparents who are desperate to give their grandchildren gifts at Christmas? I thought of telling them to give them more at their birthdays…but wondered if you have any other ideas?
We thought we’d make this a blog post, since other families might be dealing with the same topic.
This is how our family deals with the gifts. To be honest, our finances have been very tight for several years now, so that has reduced the number of gifts all on its own, completely outside of Torah. However, we have given gifts to our children at EACH feast, and we give the largest and best gifts at Sukkot.
People get the idea of gift giving from Deuteronomy 14:22-26, which says,
“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the Lord your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the Lord your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the Lord your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.
The idea of using ten percent of your income (spread over all the feasts, not just this one) is important, because I don’t think we should go into debt for this or charge everything to our credit cards. But the idea of “rejoicing” at the feasts is repeated many times in the Torah, so whatever you do about gifts, I think YHWH wants us to make it fun, enjoyable, and very memorable for our children. In other words, make it so good that they won’t miss what the world is doing. Help them “taste and see that YHWH is good.”
That’s our opinion. 🙂 Whether you do that through gifts, yummy food, or making memories together, I think that’s the principle.
As for relatives giving gifts at Christmas, we don’t celebrate Christmas in any way at our home, but we’ve felt burdened that our relatives, who do not understand why we don’t any more (even though we could explain it repeatedly) feel as if we’re rejectingthem and that we don’t love them any more. To keep them from feeling resentful toward us, we have continued sending them each a small gift at Christmas each year. If they send us gifts, we graciously accept them and say thank you. It’s not about Christmas. It’s about showing love in a way they can understand. Again, this is just how we’ve done it. The grandparents especially still feel a bit upset about it, unfortunately. But maybe it has helped a little bit.
Please send a comment and share how you handle these situations in your family.