As we get ready to step into the last month of 2017, many women start to feel stressed! It’s not that they don’t look forward to spending time with family and loved ones, it’s that they dread how busy the holidays are. From coordinating travel arrangements and accommodating guests to overspending to picking the perfect gift for everyone, many just look forward to it being over! I have to admit I used to be that way as well. Especially when my oldest was little.
I’d anxiously await my end of the year bonus and go straight to the store and get her as many things as I could. For her second Christmas, she received so many presents that we had to open them in stages! At first, she was excited to rip the wrapping paper off. After a few gifts, she didn’t want to have anything to do with it! By Easter, the majority of the gifts were donated because she hadn’t touched them! That’s when I realized that I needed to reevaluate. We had just come out of the recession, and our hard earned money had been wasted by purchasing in excess. Honestly, my toddler wouldn’t have known the difference if she hadn’t received a gift at all. She doesn’t even remember her second Christmas.
I realized it was more about me than her. I wanted her to have photos to look back on and know she was loved. I didn’t want her to grow up knowing what it was like to go without. I talked to my husband about our overspending and shared that I wanted to do things differently going forward. I didn’t want the number of presents they received to be a measure of our love. If anything it was a measure of our financial status. What happened if the next Christmas we couldn’t afford as many presents as the previous year? What happened if they had lots of gifts but work kept one of us away?
So we decided to do something different (ok, I decided and had to convince him during that year). I saw a gifting idea on Pinterest that really spoke to me. It was to give four things:
- something they want
- something they need
- something to wear
- something to read
I thought this was absolutely genius! From that point on, I had my daughter share the things that she wanted for Christmas. It made it a lot easier on us because even if her wanted gift was a bit more pricey because we were only getting one present in this category, the cost was offset by the socks she needed. We also didn’t spend tons of money on other items she wanted only for her to end up playing with a couple of them anyway. I loved the balance of practicality, necessity, and desire. It also fostered a love for reading and taught her to be appreciative of what she received.
Since this has been our family gifting method since she was three, she doesn’t know Christmas any other way. We make sure that the focus of the holidays is on the memories we make, the love we share, the laughs we have, the cuddles on the couch, and marshmallows melting in warm cups of cocoa. When I’m old and gone, she probably won’t remember what she got for her 7th Christmas, but she will remember the movies we watched, the house we lived in, the jammies we wore, and the love in our hearts.
Now that she’s nine, we’re adding another element to the holidays. It’s one we’ve discussed for a couple of years but she’s just reaching the age she can participate. A big part of the holidays (and every day) for us, is finding a way to give back. I’ve told her about families who don’t have for presents and those who don’t even have homes. I’ve shared the importance of giving back to others who are going through tough times and the being there for our community. This year will be the first year she’s able to volunteer. I was her age when I started volunteering and that had such a profound impact on my life.
Spending time getting to know people and their stories changes you. This year, we’re collecting used backpacks to donate to the homeless. We’re raising funds to fill the backpack with necessities. I’m working with local organizations that serve the homeless to schedule a volunteer day. We already have five people signed up to help stuff the backpacks, volunteer, and pass them out. I’m so grateful for the opportunity my daughter has to experience how people come together to do good for a common cause. I’m proud of the respect she has and kindness in her heart. I’m excited to see her serve with a humble heart. If you would like to contribute to our efforts, we’d be grateful for anything you feel led to contribute. Contribute here and share. ❤
Today I just wanted to encourage you to reflect on what the holidays mean to you. What’s important? What do you want your kids to look back on and remember? If you’re feeling the holiday pressure, is it worth it? What can you change to refocus how you celebrate the holidays? If you’ve found your holiday balance, what does it look like for you and your family? Feel free to share in the comments! Remember to slow down and enjoy it. ❤
Sending you lots of love and wishing you all that you need to really enjoy your reason for the season.