Okay, this post may not make me the most popular person on the planet, but I have to do it anyway. There have been several news stories and shares lately about Good Samaritans across the nation paying off layaway accounts for strangers.
Many people have gotten teary-eyed, and shared and posted links on Facebook, Twitter, etc. where others have commented on how wonderful this is, and that this has restored their faith in Christmas.
At the risk of being called a Scrooge, I have to say that while on the surface this seems like a wonderful blessing, some of the stories disturb me a great deal.
Take the story of Dona Bremser, an Omaha nurse, for example. She was minding her own business at work when she received a phone call from a Kmart employee telling her that someone had paid off the $70 balance of her layaway account.
“I was speechless,” Bremser said. “It made me believe in Christmas again.”
Sounds very sweet, doesn’t it? So, what was in that layaway account? According to the news report, nearly $200 in toys for her 4-year-old son!
What’s wrong with this picture? You know, when I was a kid and our family was experiencing lean times, we got ONE toy for Christmas, and the rest of our presents were clothes.
People, let me give you a couple of Christmas pointers:
- If you are struggling, do NOT put $200 worth of toys on layaway. Take care of your necessities: food, shelter, clothing.
- Your 4-year old won’t be playing with that $200 worth of toys, and you will feel obligated (and your child will feel entitled) to a repeat of your overindulgence next Christmas.
- Christmas is not about the “presents”, it is about the PRESENT that was given to us; the birth of Jesus who would be our savior and redeemer.
I don’t have a problem with people doing good for others at any time of the year and especially at Christmas. But, I do think our gift-giving needs to be a bit more discretionary.
The news article wasn’t all bad. In particular, I liked the story of Rebecca Carter a mother of eight in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She cried when she got the phone call telling her that her layaway account had been paid. They have been struggling to make ends meet while she looks for work. Her response: “My kids will have clothes for Christmas.”
No wasteful excess here. Just a mother trying to take care of her children’s needs.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy toys for your children. I am saying that if you are struggling to pay bills and buy clothes for your family, spending what little you have on toys is teaching your children the wrong values.
If you’re having a rough year financially, don’t make it worse by going into debt (or putting things on layaway and then losing that money when you can’t finish the payments!).
Spend time with your children. Teach them the true meaning of Christmas.
You can read the full story and see the video here: Anonymous Donors Pay Off Kmart Layaway Accounts
I’d love to hear your comments. Do you think I’m off base? Go ahead and speak out. (I can take it!) Tell me what you think in the comment section below.