Happy November! Can you believe it? Time is such a relative concept. When you’re young the gaps between hours in a day can seem cavernous, with no end in sight. Conversely, as we age, months take on a hurried pace and pages fly off of the calendar until alas, Thanksgiving and Christmas return. We’ve barely had time to miss them! In keeping with steadfast traditions that sorely include retail greed, merchants have been showing us their jingle bells and Santa mugs for months now. They slowly begin moving their Christmas swag from the back of the store to the front somewhere around Halloween. Then, the week of Halloween you’re not sure if you should shop for costumes or candy canes. It’s confusing, and also a little nauseating if you ask me.
Last year, my husband lobbied for the kids receiving ridiculously overpriced pieces of the best technology out there. Since he was mostly funding the operation, I reluctantly went along with it. The kids were pretty stoked, I won’t deny that. The look on my eldest’s face when he saw his little brother tear into his new iPhone thinking,” Hmm, wonder just what’s in my big gift,” was priceless. (Priceless? Not really.). But my main concern was thinking ahead to the following years when we weren’t going “all out” on the present buying. Fast forward to this Christmas.
This year I need to focus on gratitude and family and try to sell that goodness to my kids in lieu of grand gifts. They’re 12 and 13 so I’m sure that will be a piece of cake. But, there’s only so much “stuff” they can have, right? Financially, I cannot replace their overpriced electronic gadgets every time Apple unveils the latest edition and I am thankful for that. I don’t understand the logic in making kids feel like they need to “keep up with the Jones’.” I know kids want what their friends have, but, so what? Best to learn early that you can’t always have things your way.
To facilitate a holiday season less focused on retail and more on family and why we are even celebrating, I’m filling their heads with what we’ll be doing and less on what we’ll be buying. I’ve found a couple of great local charities where the kids can get hands-on experience purchasing items for the homeless, (with their own money,) and creating hygiene kits which they can help pass out to those in need. This past summer my son had the opportunity to help out at a food pantry run by a church in Sarasota. He had to be dropped off early so we were both struck by the image of a mother with a toddler waiting in line for food as the sun was coming up. We have made arrangements to help out there during the holiday season when many people will not have large, sit-down meals to enjoy like we will.
We’re also going “homemade” this year. Instead of searching out the perfect gift for everybody on our list which can get pricey and overwhelming, we’re narrowing our list of DIY ideas that we can create together for our family and friends. I think it will be fun to sit around a table with glue guns and craft supplies, but something tells me I’ll need to supply chocolate and sodas if I want my boys on board.
What do you do to make your holidays special for your tribe? Is anybody else turning away from the monstrous spending that accompanies Christmas? I hope my kids still feel my love when they open their meager gifts with lessons of humility, gratitude, and charity tucked in-between the ribbons and bows. I look forward to spending very little money but huge quantities of time together. And I hope that as a group our gratitude sets the tone for a new, wonderful 2019. Whatever your plans are for gift-giving or other ways you’ll be celebrating the upcoming holidays it is great to take a breather now, well ahead of Thanksgiving, and figure out just how you want your special events to run. Don’t let the holiday music at the major stores and reindeer decorations pressure you into impulse buys. I hope we can all focus on what’s important, sans the merchants and others trying to grab onto our dollars, this merry season.
Photos courtesy of Christmas Countdown Live Facebook page.