The Three Gifts of Christmas

by: Sheila Gregoire

Okay, ladies. I want you all to imagine…

I want you to imagine that this Christmas we didn’t buy junk from China. We didn’t buy things that would cause our children’s brains to turn to mush. We didn’t buy stuff with small parts that children will leave all over the floor and you will step on in bare feet and try really, really hard not to say a bad word.

We didn’t buy things for people we didn’t like just because we “should”.

Imagine, instead, that what we bought was meaningful. Not big, but meaningful. And imagine that we actually had time in December to make Christmas crafts, and to hang some decorations, and to play some board games.

We didn’t spend December at the crazy mall with crazy people and slush and no parking spots.

If Christmas is only about gifts, then we are in trouble. It has become a big waste, whether we’re successful gift givers or not, because all we’re doing is breeding greed. I know it’s difficult when children are young and they desperately want the latest toy, but parenting is about identifying teaching opportunities, and I think this is one of them. Life is not about accumulating stuff with as little work as possible; life needs to be about giving, about making a difference, about family, and values, and faith, and love, or life becomes very empty indeed.

That’s why several years ago we started a new gift giving tradition with my children. We call it the “Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh” ritual, where they each get three gifts, and nothing more. The gold gift is something they want. The frankincense gift is something they need, like socks. And the myrrh gift is something to nurture their souls. It could be a journal, or a book, or a CD, or a movie. It’s something that reminds them of their purpose here on earth, or encourages them to think, to write, and to pray about what’s important. It’s always the biggest challenge to find such a thing, but it’s a challenge I’m up for, since it reminds us of the reason for the season. And I’m pretty sure, despite what the flyers might say, that reason should not be greed.

The first year we tried it, the family was sceptical. What if they didn’t get what they really wanted? But they soon found that ONE main gift was perfectly acceptable, and it was always fun for the girls to see what we would come up with for the other ones! This year my husband and I are extending it to each other, too. One little gift of something that we would like, just for fun, but two others that show that we’re thinking about each other’s spiritual and physical well-being. That sounds much more like Christmas to me.

I’m looking forward to gathering under the tree, and sharing our gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Want to try it with me?

Sheila is the author of four books for moms, including To Love, Honor and Vacuum. You can find her at, or at Facebook at

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2 Responses

  1. I have been doing this for years. Your tradition is a little more thought than mine. I basically give three gifts at Christmas because that is what baby Jesus received when he was born. That’s the way I started our tradition. After all we’re celebrating His birthday! Love your tradition!

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