Reassess Your Gift-Giving

I read this morning that Amazon, Target, and other retailers are having “Black Friday-worthy” sales all this month to encourage everyone to do their Christmas shopping while supplies last. According to the financial newsletter The Morning Brew (which I read faithfully every morning even though I know nothing about finance), “Factories in Asia have been closed due to Covid lockdowns, shipping containers are harder to find than a heat lamp, and companies are struggling to hire workers to staff ports and drive trucks.”

I read this and thought, would it be so terrible if people weren’t able to spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on Christmas presents?

Would it be so terrible if all those toys and other items coming from China and Taiwan weren’t available in American stores this year?

Would it be so terrible if kids were *gasp* limited in the amount of presents they receive on Jesus’s (not their own) birthday?

I shake my head and think…

COVID gave everyone the chance to reexamine their priorities, to put others first, and to experience a smaller world. Perhaps this Christmas everyone could stop and think about those ridiculously long Christmas lists, what’s on them, and what might make for better gifts.

My oldest daughter, Rebecca, is hard at work crocheting lots of beautiful items to give for Christmas. These items are made with intense labor and perseverance and an outpouring of love in every knot. And sure, yarn was affected during COVID because of the increase of people staying home and learning to crochet, but according to my research (and the word of my loved ones who knit and crochet), there’s plenty of yarn out there. The bottom line is, I’d rather have one thing that my daughter or mother hand made for me that I will use and cherish forever than a dozen gadgets and superficial gifts that will end up in a yard sale by next summer.

Every year, when my girls and I have our annual Mother-Daughter Cookie Swap, I hand make the gifts for all our friends in attendance. It means so much more to me to be able to give them a piece of myself, a piece of my heart, and I hope it means as much to them.

And even if you can’t or don’t have time to make something, does your child or spouse or niece or neighbor really need more than one or two gifts?

When our girls were little, they got a stocking filled with little things like inexpensive jewelry and nail polish and warm socks. Under the tree, they would find one new outfit or a new winter coat or snow boots from Mom and Dad, and one gift from Santa. They might get a book or two and perhaps a couple accessories to accompany the gift (if, for example, the gift was a camera), and that was it. And you know what? It was enough. They didn’t present us with ten-page lists of stuff they didn’t need. They thought all year about what the one thing was that they most wanted or needed. Christmas in the eighth grade was always the most boring year of all because they all knew their one gift would be a laptop for high school. One year, we decided against any and all presents and spent a day in DC instead, visiting museums, going out to eat, and then attending Les Miz at the Kennedy Center. We even met John Val Jean, something much more meaningful to my girls than a forgotten gift left under the tree!

I have six nephews and one niece, two brothers, three sisters-in-law and two brothers-in-law, five very young second cousins I always buy gifts for, my parents, and Ken’s mother. Add to that all my friends around the country to whom I send a small gift, and that’s a lot of presents! All those presents tend to be small and thought-out, often something I’ve made or baked or bought months before (I tend to start buying for Christmas, well, right after Christmas)!

Anyway, my whole point is, so what if demand is high for the latest Tickle Me Elmo that’s lying in pieces, unstuffed and not sewn, in a warehouse in Asia, and the ship that is meant to transport it is still harbored in its home port?

I’ve long lamented that we’re a throw-away society. If it’s broken, don’t fix it, just replace it. If it’s no longer used, send it to the landfill. We just buy and buy and buy some more as if there’s an endless supply of useless junk and unnecessary toys, which unfortunately, there usually is.

This year, instead of racing to Target next week or spending all day searching Amazon for all the best bargains, why not sit back and reassess? What one gift would bring the most joy to someone on your list? What gift does someone need more than anything else? What gift will tell someone just how special they are to you and how much you love them? Would a day out with your family be the best gift you cold give? Would a special visit to see Grandma and Granddad be worth more than gifts under the tree?

And really, what Christmas gift can you possibly give to anyone that is greater than the gift we have already received? We were all given a gift that didn’t come from a store and wasn’t wrapped in a box or even made by our hands. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Be sure to catch Amy next at:

October 16-17 – Book signing – Maryland Oyster Festival in Leonardtown, Maryland 10:00AM-7:00PM Saturday; 11:00AM-6PM Sunday

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What I was writing about one year ago this week: Yet Eternal.

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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy,  Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two will be out in early 2022. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines, is now available in all formats. 

You may follow Amy on Facebook at, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at and at

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021).

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