Daily Archives: December 17, 2020

A different look at gift giving

This morning I was reminded of 2 very different Christmases with our youngest granddaughter and her parents.

When our granddaughter was very young, our daughter-in-law looked at the pile of presents we had bought and told me about the similar stacks at their home and at other grandparents’ homes. She turned to me and commented that we all needed to “pull back.” It was too much. I agreed and we did.

A few years later, we had shifted to mainly gift cards as Christmas gifts (with some fun and silly things to open). The kids were all older and buying for them was tough. This year, that same granddaughter opened our gift, turned to her parents and said, “Now I can get it!!” She had been saving her money to get a particular item and we were with her when she purchased it the next day.

Money is a tough subject. And, as Christmas approaches, we too often lose perspective and try to melt that chip in our credit card by inserting it in the machine too often.

But, even at Christmas we need to teach and model responsible behavior. I read a few years ago that a study recommended they we add the principles taught in Junior Achievement to our school curriculum as those teaching points are more important than many other life skills that are taught currently.

Junior Achievement teaches that to gain wealth you need to work and invest. You develop and produce products and you make a profit – all while maintaining high ethical standards and adhering to legal requirements.

The study went on to say that we have multiple generations of American families who do not teach their children the importance of working to earn money and then saving part of that money to improve their quality of life today and in the future.

It’s a simple concept – capitalism. Now, in some circles this word is used with scorn and derision. In my mind, capitalism includes maintaining ethical standards. When that isn’t true, then perhaps we need to call it capitalism with ethics.

Two stories come to mind.

When I was in grade school, my folks started a bank account for me and gave me a “passbook.” When I got money (usually at my birthday), 10% went to God, 10% went to savings and the rest I could spend. I soon discovered that if I put more than 10% into my savings account that it grew bigger faster. I remember being in grade school and junior high and stopping by Patron’s Bank to deposit money from a baby sitting gig or just to compare my passbook balance with what that nice lady teller told me her bank records indicated I had. It was empowering to walk by myself to that teller’s counter and learn the value of earning and saving. It was an important life lesson.

When John and I had a chance to visit mainland China for a day, we found ourselves the only Americans in our tour group. We had a great time. Part of the day’s agenda was a visit to a small farm. Being a kid from Kansas, I looked at the farm and saw things perhaps others didn’t see. They had drainage problems next to the tiny house and in front of the barn. When we returned to our bus, I commented that they could have sold us something small and used the funds to improve their farm. One of our tour mates looked at me with scorn and said, “You capitalist!” That stopped all discussion. Later, I turned to John and said with pride: “He is right – I am a capitalist!”

My point? Think about this next week. Are you teaching only greed or are you teaching giving and receiving, pride of good work, and concern for others?

Just a thought.


Jill (just one of God’s kids)

“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” Proverbs 21:20

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12