The giving season, also known as “the holidays,” has traditionally been associated with gratitude, family, and cheer. Often, the complete opposite actually transpires with young children on Christmas morning. Instead of joy and harmony, many of us have witnessed an excess of wanting, whining, fighting, and overstimulation. Here’s an idea to try. We modified our family tradition by attempting to blend the true spirit of the holidays with our modern cultural trends with the goal of creating more time and space to enjoy one another.
Instead receiving multiple gifts from friends and family members resulting in the overabundance of more stuff, we decided to focus on three basic Christmas experiences:
Christmas Past is an opportunity for our children to donate any toys they no longer need or want to a charitable organization. The toys of Christmas Past find a new home and bring joy to a child in need. It’s a win-win, less clutter in the home and an important lesson for kids.
Christmas Present collects funds from our friends and family who elect to participate. Money can be transferred into a special PayPal account to support Santa’s gift. Santa has access to PayPal and uses these funds for his elves to build the one present asked for by the kids. Assuming they are on Santa’s “nice” list, the present magically arrives on Christmas morning. Santa is also quite generous in his distribution of stocking stuffers that often include toothbrushes, oranges, chocolates, and other small items. If other gifts sneak under the tree, we request that it is more practical like towels, clothes, books, etc. Last year we were delighted to see the children have a true appreciation of Santa’s one gift. They took extra special care of it, played with it all day, and were more willing to share. There was no overstimulation, fighting, or whining. We were amazed to see genuine excitement for each other and be fully present in the moment.
Christmas Future is an investment in their future. Any additional funds collected from the Christmas Present transfers a college fund. While this gift is not experienced until later in life, it grows over time and supports the accumulation of knowledge instead of things.
My hope to refocus our holiday tradition from the commercialism of Christmas to giving to those in need, treasuring the joy of Santa, and investing in the future is an attempt to achieve the best we can gifts we give our loved ones. The stresses associated with the holidays can be lowered, we knit our community into more of a shared experience, there is less waste, and most importantly, we can give the greatest gift of all – our time and connection to truly be present with those we love.