Dec 7, 2014

Gold, Frankincense and Materialism

Have you heard of the three gifts for Christmas idea?  About a year ago now, was when I first heard about it but this is the first year we are putting it into practice.

What is this all about, you ask?

For those of you who don't know...or if you are looking for a reminder, the idea goes something like this.  For your family's gifts you stick to only three gifts under the tree.  The gifts are called gold, frankincense and myrrh....sound familiar!?!?

 Now, what these gift represent exactly, is up to your family, but the version we are going with is this;

Gold - a gift that the person really wants
Frankincense - a gift to encourage or build up their spiritual walk
Myrrh - a gift of something for the body (or something they need)

There is a theory that the three gifts brought to Jesus by the Magi held special symbolism or meanings, particularly to the life Jesus had come to live.  Gold represented His kingship, frankincense was a symbol of His priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming. So the gifts we receive based on these themes, sort of represent the same type of ideas.  Gold a want, often the more expensive of the gifts.  The frankincense, for our spiritual walk, correlating with Christ's priestly role and myrrh used in preparing the body for burial, thus a gift for the body. (Not as morbid as it sounds, think clothing, jewellery, skates, etc.)


I had heard of this idea from a friend of mine and thought how wonderfully simple it could make my holiday shopping!  I thought that...until I had to put it into practice!  Because I love... to shop!  I Christmas shop all year long!! Mostly because it saves me mad cash, while allowing me to get amazing gifts but also because I enjoy it!!  But this year it has been different.  This year I had to stop myself and think more about the purchases I wanted to make.  Each gift had to count more, mean thought out more because it was the only one for that category!  It has been different but it has been good!

One of my love languages is gift giving, so I found this idea of only three gifts quite challenging.  I love to give gifts!! I love to hunt out, (all year, as I said!) that "just right" gift.  The one that says, "I thought of you! That you are important to me and you matter!"  I love to dote on my kids, as they have such joy over the simplest things!  And yes, I love to receive gifts too - not necessarily gifts with monetary value but something that says, you care and thought about me!

So this year as we made the switch to three gifts under the tree, I realized some things.  First, it's freeing!  I don't have to keep shopping, I actually know when I am done now!  I've always struggled (read, didn't stick to at all!!) with a budget when it comes to buying gifts.  But this year, I found that it was much easier to make and stick to a budget (approximately! lol!!) because I only had a few gifts to keep in mind, so once those were bought, I was done!

Secondly this idea lines up nicely with what God has been working on in my hubby and I for the last number of years.  That having less is sooo much more!!  God has been, and still is, walking us through the journey of purging, not hoarding and learning to live with more needs, less wants and just less over all!  It can still be a struggle, especially as we have added to our family a few times over but we are learning and the ways God has changed us is amazing....pretty much a miracle really! lol!!  So less coming in and 'piling' up under the tree means less to handle in the new year! 

And I think what I like most about this idea is how it goes so much against what our society tells us this season is all about.  It fights against the mentality of materialism that is so dominate in our part of the globe, especially at this time of the year!  Our culture is so much about more, more, more!  It's amazing how we are told to constantly strive to accumulate more stuff!  And the result of this is then to buy bigger homes, to hold all the stuff!  And then when we run out of space in our big homes, there are always storage units to pack our stuff into.  Storage units, that rival many third world houses, just to store all the stuff that doesn't "fit" into our houses!

And through all this emphasis to buy more, spend more and give more gifts we lose sight of the simple pleasures this season can offer!  The idea that people become stressed over shopping, purchasing and what to buy is silly!  I think it's the fact that a sweet simple gesture isn't least we are told it isn't fact, is anything ever enough in this culture?!  We are bombarded with the idea that everyone needs everything!  And if you don't have something, then you are less fortunate, lacking or unhappy.

But it's not true, at least for those of us who's life and hope are found in the root of this season's true meaning.  That our life is found in Christ and nothing, nothing on this earth will satisfy or fulfil us apart from Him!  Now, I know that Christ wasn't actually born on December 25th, and that Christmas may have roots that aren't as Christian as I believe but the fact remains, that Christmas is a time to celebrate Christ!  A time to acknowledge and be in awe of the fact that God came down, became man, born of a virgin, a baby in this world and grew as a sinless man destined to save our souls.

When I focus on those truths this season, I realize just how easy it is to be swayed to the world's thinking.  That shopping, buying and piling up the gifts will bring joy and happiness to my family.  But it doesn't and it won't...not for any lasting time...or value.

I had forgotten, until just a few days ago, that after our car fiasco last year, we were pretty strapped for cash and so my husband and I decided that for he and myself, we were only going to give stocking presents.  We bought no gifts for each other for under the tree and when that memory came back to me, I remembered just how happy I really was that Christmas!!  Me, the "gifts is my love language" gal, felt loved and happy last Christmas!  And I was even more happy when there wasn't oodles of things to find places for in my home or stash away to be forgotten about.


So I welcome this year's change! I have had moments of guilt or doubt but they are from external, worldly thoughts.  I know we are blessed with or without gifts and the "few" things we have for our kids and each other, will be more then enough!  And instead of shopping, shopping, shopping then wrapping wrapping, wrapping, we are partaking in more memory and tradition making.  Spending more time together as a family and really enjoying each other!

I know that this idea of three gifts is a good thing for our family and I encourage others to consider this idea too!  Not that buying gifts is wrong but maybe to look at the reasons we feel the need to buy so much!?

Three's not a lot...but it was enough, for a King!



  1. Oh yes! We try to do this too...3 gifts...

    But, I loved reading your "reasons". You explain the why... so well.

    I'll have to share this with Scott.

    You're post title was eye catching!

    Proud of you!! (wink, wink) Pray for us... we're gearing up for yet another class (fpu) in January...

  2. Lovely post. Alice has such a sweet little face. And I love your nativity scene as always. Love your approach to Christmas and gift giving this year! Blessings, MAG

  3. I don't know that I could go to buying three gifts. Most of the people I buy for get just one gift. But I certainly agree with the idea behind it and loved this post explaining the plan. It certainly puts Christ as the center of Christmas which is where He should be.

  4. Great idea!
    This Christmas is my first as a married lady and it's helpful to remember that less is truly more!

  5. I share your burden that we are inundated with a false need for constant stuff. I love your idea that lends a focus to the gift giving.
    Thanks for writings . . . and for daring to be different. (In a good way. :) )


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