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Every year it seems the wish lists and shopping lists get longer. Many parents are starting to realize that your kids need fewer toys, but you still want the joy that comes from giving at Christmas. For many years now, we have given out kids just 3 gifts for Christmas, and the gift giving ceremony that goes with it is our most meaningful celebration at Christmas.
The 3 Gifts Your Kids Need This Year
Sometimes, the only thought we put into what our kids get for Christmas, is looking at what they’ve circled in the catalogs that flood our mailboxes from October to December. They make their lists, and we check them twice. And we make sure that between the grandparents, Santa, and us, almost every wish is accounted for.
What if you could infuse a little lesson into your gift-giving? What if you could bless your children with presents and point to Jesus along the way?
This year, give your kids the original Christmas gifts: Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.
(Actually, JESUS was the original Christmas gift, but we’ll go with the wise men’s treasures. Here’s why…)
Of course I don’t mean the real things, although with Young Living Essential oils, you could actually do that!
(A little trivia: Elemi oil, which is in the same family as frankincense and myrrh was sometimes called gold. Could that have been the original “gold”?? Things that make you go, hmm.)
We symbolically remember those gifts in the three gifts we give our children. You see, the first gifts of Christmas were not chosen at random. These precious gifts also carried a special symbolism.
The Spiritual Significance of The Wise Men’s Gifts
We all know what gold represents.
For centuries, gold has symbolized wealth, value, treasure, and power. Often a gift from foreign dignitaries to the sovereign of a nation, gold was a gift for a king.
In this case, for the KING of kings.
Frankincense was often used in worship, in the burning of incense, by the priests. In Revelation, the burning of incense becomes a symbolic representation of the priest offering up prayers, an aroma pleasing to God.
Frankincense, then, was to associate Jesus with the priesthood. This gift to the newborn babe established him as the Great High Priest.
Myrrh was most commonly used in burial preparations. The gift of myrrh symbolized suffering and death.
Even at the most joyful moment, the moment of Christ’s coming to the world, his painful sacrifice is foreshadowed. He would not be Christ without the death, burial, and resurrection.
Myrrh reminds us of the death and burial, the part of the story that’s hardest to hear. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. His death paid the cost for our sins.
His gift to us is the ultimate gift–life, eternal life!
I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought when this burial oil was presented to the child they had just delivered.
Teach Your Children the Truth about Jesus in Christmas Gifts
So how do we impress these things upon our children in the midst of the crackling wrapping paper and bright red bows?
Our children each get just three gifts from my husband and me representing Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.
Their “gold” represents their preciousness, their status as a child of God. Their “frankincense” is a gift for their spiritual development. And their “myrrh” a gift for their body.
As we open the gift, we discuss the symbolism in the gifts that were given to Jesus.
We light candles, read scripture, and remember the story of Jesus’ birth. Then we talk about what each gift represented as we let them open their gifts.
We start with Myrrh because that’s often the least exciting present and because reminding the children of death is not a happy note to end the celebration. Then we move on to Frankincense, and lastly, the Gold!
You may be surprised to know that discussing these weightier matters does not put a damper on our present-opening experience! The excitement of tearing off the paper and finding is more than jubilant!
If you would like to try this tradition with your own children, here’s some ideas to get you going:
Gold Gifts for Kids
Though this gift is usually just a “fun” gift, we keep it pretty small. We save the big wish items for grandparents or Santa Claus. (Click here to read why I still believe in playing Santa.)
- necklace or piece of jewelry
- small stuffed animal
- small toy
- photo album (in this day of digital photos, a printed book is quite a treat for kids)
- any small gift that would bring a smile to their faces
Frankincense Gifts for Kids
Sometimes I feel like the frankincense gifts are my excuse to raid the Christian bookstores! I love shopping there. This year we are doing something a little more handmade. My oldest daughter reads this so I can’t say it yet, but with a little imagination, you may not even have to spend money on this one!
- Bible storybook
- Devotional book
- Christian Music CD
- Framed Scripture blessing
Myrrh Gifts for Kids
Myrrh gifts can be anything used on or for your body. Sometimes we have to get a little creative with this one, because, let’s face it, we usually provide for our kids bodies without thinking about it. It takes a little effort to think of something gift-worthy. Just remember that you are not the only one who appreciates pampering products. Disclaimer: I’ve only done this with girls (the boy was about 6 weeks old last Christmas). It may be harder with boys.
- Special soap/bubble bath
- Christmas socks/slippers/pajamas
- new bath towel
- perfume/cologne (for older kids)
I would say that this is one of my favorite traditions, but I love all the ways we honor and remember Jesus at Christmas time! For more on that, check out my book Prepare Him Room.
When I wrap up our gifts, I write on the gift tag whether the package is gold, frankincense or myrrh. As kids do, they inspect all their presents under the tree and wonder what they might be. “What’s myrrh again, Mama, the body?” It’s fun to see them remembering the lesson as they anticipate the holiday!
May your season be blessed!
Fir-scented candles and gingerbread lattes,