By: Daina Sparling
Making the holidays bright, with gifts?
It happened the Thursday after Halloween. Thunk. The sound of the glossy ads hitting my front doorstep was music to my ears. But as I scurried outside to retrieve the booklets which were undoubtedly full of things that would make my holidays bright, I remembered. The gifts. After years of discussion, my husband and I decided not to purchase gifts for each other this year. But why?
I’ve lost focus
I love holiday parties, baking cookies, mailing Christmas cards, and decorating our tree. It brings me great joy in seeing my loved ones rip open the packages that I had painstakingly purchased and wrapped for months in advance. I love presents. I love giving them, I love receiving them. And that isn’t wrong. For our family, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ. And yet for 98% of the holiday season I typically find myself more caught up in what’s under the tree than the child in the manger. Our focus is divided. Over the years I’ve become more consumed by the stress of accumulation and distribution than I have on reflecting on what’s meaningful to us.
What do you believe?
Whether you’re religious or not, I ask you this. Are gifts dividing your focus? Are you spending more time buying presents and worrying that it’s not enough/too much than you are on what’s important to you? Do you look at your bank account in January and wonder where all your money went?
Is it worth it?
I want my children to grow up knowing they’re loved. I want them to feel special, to know their real value in a world that doesn’t value much. I’m not going to withhold gifts to my children. Our decision isn’t about them, not now. But I will say this. When they’re older, we will give the gift of experience. We will take them places, do things together, experience things we otherwise wouldn’t in place of buying presents. I encourage their aunties, uncles, grandmas and grandpas to do the same. Give them the gift of yourself. Your time. Your experience. Your love and attention. Because those are the things they will remember 10 years from now, not the toy you gave them.
Give from the heart
We will give generously to causes dear to our heart, and attempt to remind our children, as well as ourselves, how truly blessed we are. We will reflect on how being blessed has very little to do with what we unwrap on Christmas morning, and far more to do with the attitude of our hearts.
I’m no downer
And if you think I’m being a downer, please don’t misunderstand me. I still love the holidays. I love our tree, our cookies, our parties, and sharing that with the people we love. But what I love more is living a life with meaning. Making decisions I can be proud of, that will make a difference in the lives of others. And for now that means not fighting holiday crowds when I could be drinking hot chocolate by the fire with my family. Daina is wife to Darryl, mother to Jacob (2 years) and Audrey (3 weeks) who lives in Edmonton, Alberta. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and looks forward to the day where she can once again have more than 3 hours consecutive sleep.