Two trips to Chicago this Christmas.

I’ve always liked the Christmas-themed city with the Salvation army bellringers, the lights, the people, the three boys sitting on the sidewalk playing their “drums” (plastic buckets) … (Oh, yeah, and the pigeons and beeping taxis and bus exhaust – but you work at blotting out the undesirable.)

Both days I was there – thousands of other people were there, too. The day the munchkin and I went down, you couldn’t even move at the Christkindlmarket. Literally. Basically we walked in one side and pushed our way out the other. Good thing we actually didn’t want to buy anything at a stall, because we couldn’t. And I truly wish Chicago would do something about the tree at the market. Rather embarrassing. Seriously, we can’t do any better than a tree that looked as if it had already dropped half its needles?

But other than that …



110_02431Question: What do you do when someone gives you a Christmas gift (usually monetary) that you know they can’t afford?

Answer: Being a pastor/pastor’s wife can be hard at times for different reasons. One of the things most of us will experience in our ministry are people who give us gifts that they can’t afford to give. This is usually an older person on a fixed income whom you know struggles to meet monthly expenses. Yet, every Christmas you receive a card and a $25.00 check.

The first inclination is to not accept it, yet these people find joy in the giving and to not accept it would be offensive. 

The most important thing you can do is be gracious. Do something specific and meaningful with the money. We usually used such gifts for something having to do with the ministry (a book for Ken, gas to go to a conference, etc.) or on time spent together with the family (our family was able to go out to dinner, visit the park, gas money to visit the grandparents), etc.  We would not use the gifts on a new computer game or flat-screen TV or a swimming pool. (Actually, now that I think about it, we didn’t use ANY money for those things.)And I would always mention what we did specifically. In our minds, using the gift for something meaningful and specific helped the person know how much we appreciated their sacrifice.

Still, there are times when we felt truly bad using the gift, knowing that we had more money than the person giving it to us.