Tuesday Topic: Christmas Joy-Loving Our Children While Loving Others

This week’s Tuesday Topic comes from Mary who writes,

We are a new foster family.  Over the last year our hearts and minds have been challenged by the orphan and God’s love for the oppressed.  My husband and I wonder how we missed it for so long!  We have been so wrapped up in self and “our family”.

As your family has grown and as you all have been awakened to a world that God loves and asks us to love also, do you have any suggestions on how to balance all of this, especially at Christmas?  We all have limited funds, so how do we make spending choices that love and cherish our children, but love and cherish others as well?

This is a great topic as we head into Advent and the Christmas season.  How do you find the balance?

I would love to see us get some dialogue going — so bring it on.  How do you balance this in your families? As Mary so nicely put it, how do you love and cherish your children while loving and cherishing others?


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. gjisaac
    November 23, 2010

    this is always challenging. first, we're always suprised at how our kids are very open to simplifying! this year, we are cutting back to one gift per child, their stocking, and a wrapped box of sugar cereal! they are as excited with anticipation as they have been in years when we weren't simplifying!

    for extended family, etc., we try to give a small thoughtful gift (like a photo mug or something for grandma) together with an "alternative" gift (like a lump of coal that really provides a stove for a family in Haiti at http://www.theadventureproject.org or a gift of Bibles to a Chinese mission, etc.). we also try to think of ways to "multiply" what we have (using some of our funds to raise MORE to give somewhere – like selling something handmade by our kids to raise funds for a project). last year for our cousins' gift exchange, each child received a gift card from Network for Good instead of a gift and they got to individually choose what project to spend their gift card on (this could be done with a World Vision gift catalog too!)…

  2. gjisaac
    November 23, 2010

    one more thing! : )

    …and this year we are adding a new advent tradition – Jesus will have a stocking alongside of ours and we will each thoughtfully choose something to put in there on Christmas Eve – we'll each make Him a card with our gift – a gift of giving, changing, or doing – like giving part of our allowance(s) to a project, or changing a way we behave toward our siblings, or doing something specific for someone with a need.

  3. sandee
    November 23, 2010

    I love Ann Voskamps post that applies to this…her KIDS suggested their change in gift giving…they choose from charity catalogs….and give to Jesus by giving to the least of these. (Well worth the read). http://www.aholyexperience.com/2010/11/christmas-

    We have downscaled each year, to the point that finally, this year…we are MORE in line with what I would hope. I make gifts for my kids from things repurposed or found in my sewing room, plus some thrift store books, games. They each make gifts for each other. Freeing up those funds, they all four made Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan Purse) gift boxes….and we are choosing a goat or some other gift from a catalog…and doing that on Christmas eve……

    I think one of the biggest helps, has been influence. My children to do see all the commercials and advertisements that come out this time of year. (we do not have tv channels) and I don't take them to the malls and storesA big clue for momma is for ME to stay out of the stores so I don't WANT to give them all those "things".

  4. Kate in NY
    November 23, 2010

    In past years, "Santa" has brought one gift for the whole family to enjoy (last year it was a ping-pong table, for example) – and then we give the children individual gifts. I have kept the Santa tradition alive (letter, cookies out on the mantle, etc) – mostly because my youngest is 7 and still believes. And because I have wanted to believe just as much as she does, I think!

    But this year, Abi (12 and home 5 years from Ethiopia) said to me: "Mom, I don't know why we pretend Santa even exists. If he was real, do you really think he would spend all his time bringing presents to rich kids in America who already have everything? Wouldn't he bring gifts to the poor kids in Africa instead? Or he could even bring them water or food, since they don't even have that. Why do we keep pretending to believe in Santa who only cares about the rich?" Gulp. I was impressed that he came to that realization, however bleak, on his own. The more I thought about Santa, the more the uncomfortable I became with perpetuating this story that has become so commercial, and so inequitable. This year, I've decided to let the kids peruse a bunch of charity catalogues and let them pick the organization that our present from "Santa" will go to.

    In addition, I have told them I do not want them to write Christmas lists this year for the gifts they want to receive. Instead, I have requested "giving lists" – the presents they hope to give to family and friends. Already, the atmosphere in our house has changed from the usual "I want this, that, one of those, that, etc." to whispering and planning, and craft making – – – it is really nice!

    Great topic!

  5. Laurel
    November 23, 2010

    This year, my husband and I and our son are all receiving a pair of TOMS shoes. They are great shoes and for every pair you buy, TOMS gives a pair to a child in need. We are all excited about our new shoes and we know that we have bought 3 pairs of shoes for kids who don't have any. http://www.toms.com

  6. Becky
    November 23, 2010

    Last year, I felt God leading me to call our local county to see if we could do something for foster kids for Christmas. They told me that they were really in need of gifts. We decided to take that project on and our whole family began to come up with out-of-the-box ideas on how we could raise more gifts. My husband collected at his office, the kids in their classrooms, we donated our Christmas party to foster kids and asked guests to bring an upwrapped toys, etc. Our whole focus of Christmas went to giving and all the stress and to-do lists were forgotten and replaced by an incredible joy! For most of December, the only gifts under our tree were for foster kids. We ended up collecting 339 gifts and $270 which we spent on yet more gifts! We have already begun planning our party for this year and praying for God's blessings again.

  7. nancileamarie
    November 26, 2010

    We have sort of been fading more and more into less giving to each other, more giving to people desperately more needy than ourselves. We still fill stockings with fun little things, but don't really overdo the presents anymore. This year my daughter's grandmother is going to write her a letter explaining where it is going. She is only one so we are hoping to set the trend of not overwhelming them with gifts at Christmas. I am so glad they were on board with this!

  8. Mary
    November 27, 2010

    Just read this. Another neat reflection about whose birthday it is.


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