How was your Christmas?
I hope it was blessed with making much of Christ and the unimaginable, incomprehensible wonder of the eternally-begotten Son of God born as a man.
Two years ago, my wife and I, were trying to keep both our focus and that of our young children on Jesus, on his birthday. But it was a struggle. In particular, the kids had trouble seeing beyond the pile of presents under the tree.
When Christmas day came, we were dismayed to see the idea of presents consuming all of their attention. Skip the Bible reading, let's get on to the gifts!
Then we watched them rush from gift to gift, caring very little for each individual present, and very concerned about where their next present might be hiding. We knew that if they had received any one of these gifts on a normal day, they'd be thrilled. Instead, the value of each gift was lost in the yuletide potlatch.
There had to be a better way.
At the time, we were receiving the Christian Parenting magazine from Christianity Today. Though we were rarely impressed with the magazine, the article Bye-Bye Bunny made the entire subscription worthwhile.
Following the authors' suggestion, we have stopped giving presents at Christmas (we still do stockings). This frees us up from the shopping madness of December, as well as reducing the focus on gifts, and makes room for bringing in a full focus on the miracle of the Incarnation.
This doesn't mean that we are being stingy with our kids. Instead of giving gifts at Christmas time, we have "GOTYA days" for every individual member of the family at some point throughout the year. On that day, we celebrate the person, give them gifts, and spend time together as a family. This is the time when they receive what would otherwise be kept back until Christmas. For the kids, the date of their GOTYA days is a surprise, although we schedule those days approximately 6 months from their birthdays. Since two of our birthdays are very close to Christmas, this means we don't have to go 12 months between celebrations as before.
So, why the name GOTYA? Well, we don't like the name, but we haven't come up with a good replacement. The authors of the article created it as an acronym meaning "God Thinks You're Awesome." We believe that's an inappropriate description and don't use that phrase, but we still call them GOTYA days, although without a good explanation for the word.
Check out the article. Then, let me encourage you to try out their suggestions with your family. We have been absolutely delighted with the impact it has had on ours!