Define Necessity

  Have you read the Bernstein Bear’s Book called “The Greedy Gimmies”? 

Every family should own this book, so it can be pulled out and referenced to our kids.

 America has a BAD, BAD case, of the Greedy Gimmies.


  This selfish need for stuff……for more, more, more.  Overflowing closets, toy baskets and towering garage sale piles prove it.  How about Christmas trees with gifts so stuffed below it, that it threatens to tip over? 

  Couldn’t that money be better spent on someone who struggles DAILY to feed their family?  To someone across the world who doesn’t have the privilege of clean water at their disposal? 

  We are SPOILED ROTTEN and we are blind to it.  Cupboards full of food and clean running water, soft beds and shoes on our feet are a PRIVILEGE and we should be thankful to have our daily needs met so easily.  Somewhere across the world a Mommy longs for food for her children’s growling tummies, or water from a source other than the muddy stream, and you want another knick knack for your shelf? A bigger TV?  A softer mattress?  $170 Ugg boots?

   There are so many GREAT options out there for Gracious Gift Giving:

  Like Samaritans Purse, who sends out a WONDERFUL catalog each year with items like: “Feed A Hungry Baby for A Week – $9” or “Buy a Family A Months Worth of Milk- $18” .  I wrote about it last year:  Check it out here.  

  You can purchase these items and many, many more, in honor of “Aunt Sue” or “Uncle Jim”, and Samaritans Purse sends a lovely card, so they know just what your gift to them did for a family in need.  A gift like that keeps on giving the entire year, long after our Christmas trees are tucked away, our knick-knacks put up on the shelf.

  How about using Christmas as a Season of Compassion and adopting a child from Compassion International? 

 We are big believers in their ministry, and sponsor 2 children each month from Uganda.  We’ve sponsored Bampata John for 8 years now, and Nahabwe Deborah for 5ish.

Bampata John

scan_pic0002 (2)

Do you know how good it was, for my kids to realize that the Birthday money we sent John, went to buy him a BED?  That the Christmas money we sent, bought his family a COW?  Life changing items to his family who needs so much.


   So what does this post title mean: “Define Necessity”?

  Saying “No” to our kids is a hard thing to ask a parent to do, but since when does purchasing things equal happy kids?


  Now, don’t get mad at me here for coming down on you, I’m totally talking to myself in this post too.  Our toy closet is full!  Even though we don’t buy toys just because we step foot in Walmart, it has still slowly filled up.  We don’t buy 20 gifts for each kid at Christmas; they get 3 from us, just like Jesus received from the 3 wise men.  (This helps limit our spending, as well as their need for MORE.)  Yet, the toy closet is so full it makes me angry every time I step foot in there. 

  I’d rather have 1 toy my children can play with 7 different ways, than 7 different toys that can only be played with one way.


We live in a See It, Want It, Buy It generation. 

  Commercials flash across the screen, designed to grab our children’s attention and create a need in them.  It’s a trick, and I won’t fall for it.  We rarely watch TV, but when we do, you better believe the commercials get muted and kids sent off to brush teeth or something. I won’t have it, it makes me too mad to watch them invade my home with the intent of screaming:

 “BUY MY PRODUCT, you know you WANT too!!!!!!!!! You NEEEEED it.”

  What are we doing to protect our children from this nasty cycle of “Stuff”? 

What are we doing to teach them to SAVE their dollars and work hard for what they want, rather than watching mommy pull out her credit card once again to get them what they “HAVE to have”?

In a time of a low economy, job losses, recession and foreclosures, we need to teach our children to appreciate what they ALREADY have!  To play creatively with toys that don’t whir and spin, sing and move.  What happened to good ol’ fashion fun under a sheet-covered dining room table?  Or basic wooden blocks to create castles and entire towns out of?  What about a trunk of old clothes and shoes, just begging for an afternoon tea party in full costume?

Let’s get creative, and you don’t need new toys to do it!  Let’s finger paint with pudding.  Let’s bathe dolls or float boats in a kitchen sink chock full of bubbles.  Let’s get out a bowl of water and a paint brush and paint the bricks out front.  Let’s give those well-worn books another read.  Let’s make shopping trips a rare treat, not the norm.  Let’s use gift buying as a way to bless others or reward a month-long “Job Well Done”, or when a child finishes filling their chore chart with stickers, not to quiet a fit in the middle of Target.

   Don’t we want our kids to learn to be content as they grow up?  Are we creating a generation of Greedy Gimmie Kids who will enter the work world expecting to have all their demands met when they stamp their foot?

YES.  And it’s time to stop. 

  There is nothing wrong with buying a few Christmas gifts for your children.  It’s the taking it OVERBOARD that is killing us!

  Have you ever watched a child surrounded by 12 new toys?  They can’t focus or enjoy one, too distracted by the other, then the other, then the other, never really enjoying them to their full potential. 

  Let’s teach our kids first to GIVE rather than receive, then, let’s limit what we choose to give them in order to teach them to appreciate what they have.  Let’s reach out to a family in need to make our children aware of how much harder someone has it out there.  How blessed we are to have full tummies and soft beds.

  Let’s stop the Greedy Gimmies in their tracks……….let’s get our kids back to the basics. 


Define necessity

Starting now.

It’s past time…..


16 thoughts on “Define Necessity

  1. Friends use this as their gift giving guidline for their 5 kids:
    One they want,
    One they need,
    One they wear,
    One they read.

    I think it’s a great way to decide what to get your children. I felt like we spoiled Mac so much this year, but then I hear what other people buy and I’m appalled. I also know our gift choices will get years of enjoyment! And can be played with multiple ways!

  2. Very good post Tonya!!! Just like we were talking about the other night when I was a kid 3 or 4 gifts did not seem like a lot compared to what my friends were getting, but I did not care because I liked the tradition of why we got the 3 gifts we got and what it meant behind the gifts, even as a kid I liked this.

    As the kids get older I know it will get harder, but we try hard every year to spend $100 or less on each kid which includes their 3 gifts from us symbolizing the 3 gifts Jesus got, and the 1 Santa Present, and their Christmas Ornament, and Christmas Jammies.

    The Christmas Ornament was a tradition my Mom started with us so we recieved an ornament every year and by the time we left home we had enough ornaments to fill our own tree, my kids love their ornament every year and we try to find ornaments that symbolize something from their life that year like this year everyone gets a Disney Ornament because that was our Big thing for the year.

    The Jammies I started just because by Christmas all the kids are in need of new Jammies and this way they can all go to bed on Christmas night in coordinating jammies which looks nice in pictures the next day LOL (yes this is a bit of OCD on my part wanting my pictures to look good 🙂 The Ornaments and Jammies are not given as gifts though.

    This year it has not been hard to stick to the $100 or less per kid because the girls “Big” gift is my old Cannon Rebel so they can start learning Photography and doing a Photography Project through 4H, and Tucker’s “Big” gift is also a hand me down gift from a friend who requested no money for herself but to donate money to the soup kitchen or shelter instead of buying her used item from her.

    No I look at things and think 3 or 4 gifts is A LOT of stuff even my kids said this year they did not know if they could come up with 3 or 4 things they wanted or needed because they do not want to be greedy when others need so much.

    That statement is what makes my heart swell with love for them because they are learning and getting that Christmas is not all about me me me and what I can get but what others need and what they don’t “need”!!

    I love that your Chirstmas Traditions also teach your children these special lessons in life!!! 🙂

      • Aww thanks Better Baker 🙂 I don’t always come back to see comments but I did today because I loved Tonya’s post and I wanted to see what other people said after I was here to read it. Tonya and I have talked on the phone before about how similar our traditions we lay down for our kids are we vary some but not much in things so it is nice to read her posts and know her kids, and enjoy her blog!!! Thanks for the sweet comment I did not expect anyone but Tonya to take the time to read it LOL!!! 🙂 Merry Christmas!!!!

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I can’t get those last two images out of my head. As I scurry around to finish up last minute shopping and start feeling sorry for myself because I am “stressed” out, I will think of that picture. May we all get a fresh dose of HIM this season!!

  4. Love this post, Tonya! Your values are old school…GOOD! Keep focused like this…life is richer and more fulfilling! You also have your hands full…God bless you child! I’m so glad to be your new foodie friend and your fan! Ally xoxoxo

  5. Love your Post Tanya!
    I might have posted this before but our family Christmas this year is all homemade or regifting items and I have to say that from what I hear everyone is having a great time with it and so much less money is being spent which means we can maybe do and extra angel tree child this year!

  6. This book brings back memories. 🙂 The Berenstain Bears books were Makenzie’s favorites. We read them ALL the time – even when I really wanted to read something else for a change. We have always done the 3 gifts with our girls, and various things like Almsgiving, Angel Tree, etc. However, I still think they are often quick to forget how blessed they are, especially when we start talking about what they want for Christmas. Their lists can grow and grow. My youngest is quite concerned about how we’re handling the gift opening this year. Are we opening before church, or do they have to wait? At Hutch High the counselors have an Angel Tree with our very own students on it. They can be adopted by staff or various groups. Our oldest, Katlyn (a junior) was involved in shopping for several students through Stucco and an IB class. She was telling us all about it one night at supper. The students had things like shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes listed. For a fun item, the one girl had requested a bottle of nail polish or remover. She was so touched by how needy some of her fellow classmates were. She decided she would like to use her baby sitting money to shop for more of the “angels” on the tree since there was nothing she really needed. I shared because I often wondered when they were little if they were really “getting it.” As they mature, I think the values you are teaching when they’re younger really start to emerge. My youngest however, might need a healthy dose of the Berenstain Bears over Christmas break! 🙂 Merry Christmas to you all!!

    • This gave me CHILLS. The need right around us, in our very own town, is so great! Your daughters actions blessed my heart, thumbs up for a job well-done, Momma! THIS is what I hope to instill in our kids, by keeping the focus of Christmas about Christ and others, rather than self! However, it will be years yet until we see what the seeds we have planted will sprout and grow into. Thank you for this comment, I am so so blessed you took the time to write, and a Merry Christmas to your family as well!

  7. Pingback: Keeping CHRIST in Christmas |

  8. Pingback: Christmas Favorites | 4 little Fergusons

I adore hearing from you, comment away! :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s