“Our Best Tradition Yet,” Ensign, Dec. 2008, 64
“Dad in charge of Christmas?” The idea shocked us kids, but Mom and Dad had already made the decision. It all started with their unintended Christmas tradition of fretting about the budget. Mom wanted to have a “good” Christmas, creating a special atmosphere in our home to reflect the season. She tried to be frugal, buying discount items in the off-season. But everything added up. Dad insisted that the world shouldn’t dictate to us how much we spend on Christmas. Besides, there were expenses for needed items that had to be considered first.
Finally, Mom suggested, “Maybe you’d like to be in charge of Christmas this year. You buy the presents, and let’s see what kind of Christmas you can come up with for our family.” With a little apprehension, Dad agreed. After pondering a new plan and discussing it with Mom, he announced at family home evening his idea for a “spend-less Christmas.” Each person in the family would make a $25 gift for another family member. On Christmas morning, we would take turns sharing our gift and expressing our warmest feelings for the recipient. We would do this one at a time until everyone had presented his or her gift. The idea was to try to make gifts that showed we cared—gifts that expressed love.
Some of us children were worried about the plan, thinking of all the fun things our friends would have that we wouldn’t. That’s when Dad explained part two of the plan. The rest of the Christmas budget would be divided among us and spent the day after Christmas when many items go on sale. This would help our family’s resources go farther. We could get clothes and other items we needed at a reduced cost.
We all voted to try this new way for one year. If it was a disappointment, we could return to the old way. Then we drew names and started thinking of a personal, handmade gift for that individual.
How did our experiment go? It turned out so well that everyone wanted to tell the recipients how much they cared for them. We didn’t miss the presents under the tree and instead looked forward to shopping the day-after sales. We enjoy our new tradition so much that we now begin drawing names each summer so we have plenty of time to choose and make our secret gifts for our family members.