We Don’t Give Christmas Presents: Here’s How it Helps Our Family
Jason And Abby Low | NOVEMBER 6, 2018 | 4 MIN READ
We don’t give Christmas presents in our family. It’s not that we don’t believe in Christmas or find it to be insignificant. Or that we think we’re better than other parents.
We don’t exchange gifts on December 25 because we think Christmas is so special. It’s a tradition that began in Abby’s family, when her mom said, “Christmas is Jesus’s birthday. Do we get presents on someone else’s birthday? No!”
A Different Family Tradition
I always thought it was weird that my mom would answer herself when she asked the question, but the point was clear — and it made sense. Christmas is a celebration of Jesus’s birthday and not ours.
My parents never gave me a Christmas present. Instead, they gave me presents on Thanksgiving. It was all the pomp and circumstance of gathering, wrapping, and opening presents on Christmas Day, but on Thanksgiving Day instead.
Christmas was special for our family, even without gifts. We retold the Christmas story and decorated a tree. We lit our last advent candle and placed the last piece on our advent calendar. We even joyfully received presents from other relatives and ended the day with a yummy meal.
My family was more traditional in its Christmas celebration. We hung stockings, put presents underneath our tree, and ravenously discovered what Santa had given us that year. We also were mindful of the Christmas story, but our customs were in line with what almost everyone else was doing.
When I first heard about Abby’s family tradition, I laughed because it made so much sense to me. It made Christmas Day more purposeful and intentional, and I was grateful for a different kind of family tradition that allowed us to give gifts but also remove some of the consumer aspects of American Christmas. So when our first child was born in 2010, we decided our family would align with Abby’s childhood tradition of gift giving on Thanksgiving Day.
4 Benefits of Being “Untraditional”
The most obvious impact of giving our children Thanksgiving presents and not Christmas presents is that we can explain that Christmas is the celebration of someone else’s birthday. It removes one of the aspects of Christmas that children idolize most -- getting presents -- and clears the way for them to celebrate and cherish Jesus our Savior.
Giving presents on Thanksgiving Day meant we could celebrate the holiday in a special way with Abby’s parents. We were able to keep our children connected with their grandparents with a unique way of celebrating.
The tradition also provides a tangible experience on Thanksgiving to remind the family that gifts ought to be met with grateful hearts. The acts of giving and receiving gifts on Thanksgiving help us to connect that exchange with expressions of gratitude and kindness. It is then a simple step to remind ourselves that we have received grace from our Heavenly Father and that it must be met with a deeply grateful attitude.
We also find that friends are curious about our family tradition. It becomes an opportunity for spiritual conversations that begin and flow quite naturally. The obvious question people ask is why we do it. An honest answer allows us to bring Jesus into the conversation and reflects our efforts to honor Him with our family culture.
Jason Low is a youth pastor and Abby Low is a special education teacher. They’ve been married for 13 years and have 3 kids (ages 8, 5, and 2). They currently reside in the Los Angeles area and attend Bread of Life Church in Torrance.