DEAR REV. GRAHAM: Our children and grandchildren keep asking us what we'd like for Christmas, but we honestly don't need anything at this stage of life. We don't want them to think we're ungrateful, but how can we tell them we don't want any gifts?
DEAR B.F.: Admittedly people sometimes give gifts only out of obligation; they do it because they think they have to. When Jacob was about to meet his estranged brother Esau, he sent lavish gifts ahead. He thought, "I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending" (Genesis 32:20).
But we also give gifts because we love and respect someone -- and that's certainly the case with your children and grandchildren. In other words, they genuinely want to give you something that will express their love for you. This is why I hope you won't deny them this pleasure by telling them you don't want any gifts from them.
I understand your problem, however -- so let me make a few suggestions. First, if your grandchildren are young, you might suggest that you'd love to get something that they've made (perhaps in class). Second, instead of something you know you'll never use, you might suggest they join to give you a flower arrangement or plant (such as a colorful poinsettia) to brighten your home at Christmas.
But I also hope you'll consider suggesting something else: a gift to an organization or charity that needs your support. No, you may not need anything -- but countless people do, and a Christmas gift in your honor could be of great help to them. Remember Jesus' words: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
Ask God to make you a blessing and encouragement to your children and grandchildren this Christmas. May they always remember your love for them -- and most of all, your love for Christ.
Write to Billy Graham in care of Billy Graham Evangenlistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or visit the website at
Style on 12/05/2017
Print Headline: On Christianity