What a Gift Can’t Do

We’re getting down to the last few days of Christmas shopping and now, some of you guys are starting to panic. What are you going to get her now? What does she really want?

Now, add to this panic a heaping helping of guilt. Your job was a little more demanding than usual. You were tired when you got home. Fill in your own list of reasons/excuses for why you weren’t as attentive to her or your marriage as you should have been.

Now, you’ve set yourself up for a double whammy. For one thing, you’re going to spend way more on a gift than you should. This one will kick you in January…hard!

Second, the gift won’t do what you want it to do. No gift can make up for attention you didn’t give, time you didn’t spend, or affection you withheld. In fact, the gift just may backfire on you. The expensive gift may just remind her of all of the times she felt neglected, and then, she’ll get mad all over again.

So, what can a guy do in a crisis like this?

Let me offer this suggestion. Give your wife “moments” in the coming year. I know, most of you are thinking about giving your wife more time, but moments are different from time. Time is just ticks on the clock. Moments are what you do in that time.

Here’s what you do.

Sit down together and get out your calendar. Go over your year a month at a time. Plan dates with your wife, anniversary celebrations, birthdays, vacations—all a year in advance. Pay special attention to those times of your year when you know you’re going to be extremely busy. (For example, if you’re a CPA, this would be tax time). Plan something before you get busy and plan something to celebrate the end of your busy season. You can do the this for your whole family, but for this exercise, just focus on your marriage.

You’ll accomplish a couple of things by doing this:

1. You’ll make your wife the priority of your time. After all, you planned your time with her first.
2. You will give her something to anticipate. Remember being a kid at Christmas? Waiting for it is half the fun.
3. You won’t have to worry about it for an entire year. It’s already on your calendar.

Yeah, I know. This doesn’t sound very romantic, but sometimes you get the feeling and then you act. Other times, you act and the feeling comes later. Whether or not you “feel” like going out when the date comes up, once you get into the moment, you’ll be glad you planned ahead.

So, give it a try. Over the next few days sit down with your brand new, mostly empty 2017 calendar and plan your special days. Let me know how it works out. Something tells me, if you do this, Christmas will be a lot easier for you next year!

Merry Christmas!

Uncle Mike’s Shortcut to Successful Christmas Shopping for Your Wife

Uncle Mike’s Shortcut to Successful Christmas Shopping for Your Wife

The Christmas holidays bring a lot of stress to our lives. We pack up the family for an exhausting drive to see our families. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like several hours in a car with over sugared, hyped up kids. We have to listen to the same stories from the same relatives. After all, it’s not Christmas unless you’re trapped in a small living room with a few dozen of your relatives.

And then there is the torture of having to buy a Christmas present for your wife. All of us guys have had that moment listening to a friend of ours who gave his wife hedge trimmers for Christmas. That ended up ruining Christmas and most of January too. There’s so much pressure to NOT get the WRONG gift is makes getting the right gift seem almost impossible.

But there IS a way…and here it is.

First, your wife tells you all year long what she wants for Christmas. You just have listen…and take notes. Whenever you’re with her and she says, “I would like to have…” or “One day, what I really want…” Make a note. Sure, not all of these statements are realistic. Some are just wishes, and you know they’re never going to happen (like wanting the Falcons to make the Super Bowl), but others have a grain of truth.

When it comes time to buy a gift…all you have to do is check the list and choose one. Which means—and this will shock you—a vacuum cleaner is a perfectly legitimate gift if (and this is a big if) it’s something she really needs and has mentioned. You can give practical gifts. That’s fine. Just be sure that’s not all you give. At least one of the gifts has to be to her as your girlfriend. I don’t care how long you’ve been married; you have to keep dating.

A great gift does two things: first, it shows you’ve been paying attention. Second, it shows you know her. So, let’s think back…what has she said she really wanted this past year? Start there.

Now, what is it about her that makes her “her”? Is it her perfume? (Yes, you should know this.) Does she keep a journal? Does she give and give and never think about herself? Write down what makes her “her” in one sentence. Now, what gift best expresses or complements that? That’s what you give.

Does she collect anything? Jeannie loves Teddy Bears. A bear is always a winner.

You see, Christmas doesn’t always have to be a disaster. It doesn’t have to be filled with anxiety or stress. You can make Christmas work. All you have to do is listen a little bit, think a little bit, and then, do what you know to do.

But trust me, you can make the moment happen. You know the moment I’m talking about. The moment when she opens the present and realizes the care and thought that went into the gift and knows that no one knows her like you do—that no one loves her like you do.

It doesn’t matter what’s in the box. If she feels known and loved when she opens it, it’s a great Christmas!

Breaking Free from a Cultural Christmas

According to the news accounts, Christmas is the most important time of the year—just not for the reason you might think. No, Christmas isn’t important because we celebrate the birth of Christ. Christmas is important because we shop. Some (if not most) retailers depend on the Christmas shopping season in order to make a profit for the year. Black Friday is called Black Friday because it’s when stores typically go into “the black” for the year, meaning they’re profitable for the fiscal year.

For years, people have been complaining about how hyper-commercialized Christmas has become and how crazy the holidays are…and yet, we end up falling into this cycle of commercialism and over planning one more time. Next year, we promise, it’s going to be different.

It never is.

So, why don’t we avoid January’s remorse by making some different decisions in December?

What kind of decisions?

Well for one, think about your travel over the next few weeks. All of us have 365 days in a year. We don’t have to see everyone we love in the next few days. We can space out the love and happiness over the year. Don’t give into (or create) pressure for everyone to be together. If it works, great. If not, find another time. Trust me, it’s not a sin to be rested after the holidays.

Budget your Christmas spending. If you haven’t shown love all year long, buying a bigger present isn’t going to help. I know everything is on sale. But there are sales in January too.

Lastly, remember Christmas isn’t about gifts, but about THE GIFT—Jesus Christ. Don’t let the craziness of the holidays crowd out your worship. If you do anything as family, make sure worship is what you do. Worship at home as a family. Attend a worship service together. Do whatever you have to do to make sure Jesus is at the center of your Christmas celebrations.

Take a little pressure off yourself and your family. Remember, Christmas is about joy—the joy of the Promise kept. And if you aren’t smiling in December, you may have missed the whole point.