Have a Holly, Jolly, Debt-Free Christmas

December 12, 2008

By Glenn Tilton
ABIDE in LOVE (Healthy Marriage for United Methodists)

"'Festive, but frugal' is the mantra for Holiday 2008," says Claudia Buck, Personal Finance columnist for the Sacramento Bee.
Home for Christmas
The most important gift of the holidays is home and family - marriage and other loving relationships. Thanksgiving and Christmas bring back memories and longings for home and familiar faces and places. Jesus taught us to value the Spiritual gifts rather than those material things that tarnish, rust, wear out, or go out of style. When our credit cards, bank accounts, and job prospects are limited, it's a time to change our thinking about what gifts are important.   
Remember Christmas Savings Accounts?
What a unique idea: spend what we have budgeted and saved for Christmas gifts! This was a unique idea of the past that encouraged us to establish Christmas accounts at our bank early in the year, so we could buy our gifts with confidence. For more hints about this, check out the Christian Personal Finance page at www.christianpf.com.   
Give gifts by faith, not by guilt
When we give gifts to family members, let's remember to follow our plan, our budget, and what's reasonable. Let us not be led astray by the marketers—or guilt about what we should have done and didn't. How many family issues are solved by giving gifts? Faith and love call us to live by a plan to meet the needs of our family by giving gifts of ourselves. Giving is a spiritual need and no material gift can totally fill that.
Simple Gifts
Chris Gersten, editor of the "famili-us-e-newsletter," says, "I have asked my kids and grandchildren to give me something more special than buying me gifts this year. I have asked them to give me gifts that they make, or that my grandchildren have made."
Here are some simple suggestions: framed children's art work or family photos, home baked goods, and family memorabilia passed on from elders to their children and grandchildren. These gifts not only save a lot of money, they bring us closer together. They represent time invested in creating very personal gifts.
These thoughts are emphasized in the song, "Simple Gifts," which came from the hand and soul of Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848.
'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.
Our Treasure Is Where Our Heart Is!
Husbands, wives, partners, boyfriend and girlfriend—we suggest that you give each other the gift of an ABIDE in LOVE Marriage/Relationship Education class to make sure that your love affair doesn't rust or tarnish. None of us is perfect, and love is something that we do for each other. Intimate love is too important not to care for it as if it were your most important treasure.