Christmas is cancelled this year at our place. When I say it is cancelled, what I mean by that is that we will not be buying presents. We have put up our tree and decorated it with lots of things the boys have made over the years. We have put up little ornaments around the house.
This isn’t a case of one of those times when the kids are driving me a bit crazy and I pull out the big guns, ‘well, I am cancelling Christmas!’ … no, none of that.
For many months now I have been telling the boys that we are not buying gifts for Christmas and what lead me to that decision was when Christmas came up in conversation and I asked the boys what they wanted Santa to bring them. The boys didn’t really have an answer. It took a bit of thinking for them to come up with some random things, but what it meant to me was that they already have enough. They didn’t have any huge desire or longing for anything. They already have the trampoline, the x-box, laptop, playstation. They have lots of games, books and a tonne of Lego. What else could they want? Obviously nothing.
I refuse to just go out and buy stuff for the sake of it and put all that ‘stuff’ under the tree. It just seems so wasteful. I know what will happen. They will wake up on Christmas morning … WAY TOO EARLY … rush for the tree, rip open each present, look at it and say ‘COOL’ and then put it aside while they search for any more presents to open. Then at the end say, ‘Is that it?’
Rewind to last year … I went on to a local ‘Pay It Forward’ Facebook group and posted up that we wanted to find a family who could do with some help. We found one. They had five children. We all went out as a family and bought loads of gifts. We took the boys and they helped us pick the presents for the children and NOT ONCE did the boys ask for something for themselves. It was really awesome! To top it off I bought some Christmas food and a pretty big supermarket voucher. We wrapped all the presents and delivered them to the parents who were simply thrilled.
Now, we probably went a bit overboard on the presents and looking back we may have been able to help several families instead of just one but the whole experience for my boys was a great one. They learnt that Christmas is about giving NOT receiving BUT they still got presents that year.
Rewind to the year before that. I get a phone call from my Aunty saying a local family had their rental property burn down due to an electrical fault, no insurance, eight children and they have NOTHING. Could I help? Well both my sisters helped me out organizing, pick ups and then delivering all of the amazing things that people donated through our Facebook page. Again, I involved the children and we went shopping to fill up the freezer that someone donated with food for the family. I let the boys pick all the food and when we dropped it off I told the family that this was from my boys and the boys got the reaction, that amazing feeling of giving and someone repaying you with their gratitude. Simply awesome BUT they still got presents that year too.
Not this year though. This year it is going to be all about having a great experience together. Hopefully the weather will be good. We can enjoy some great food and just enjoy being together. A walk on the beach and I might just pull out a little gift from Santa in the evening if they handle the whole, no Christmas thing well, but I mean small!
There have been a few advent calendars of kindness being shared around, but I do that stuff with my kids all year round. My boys wait for others to go first, they open doors for others, they offer to carry things or help other people. We regularly donate not just our used things but new things as well to places like the Salvation Army, SPCA, City Mission and so on. We have sponsored two girls through Childfund for more than ten years and we send those girls a special gift each year on top of our usual support. Christmas is a time to remind us to GIVE but really we should be doing that all year round.
Maybe Christmas should be a time to remember just how lucky we are to be together, to be loved, to live in a wonderful country like New Zealand free from wars and terrible hardships. Maybe Christmas is about thinking about what is really important in life. Family, happiness, health and time … time with each other over the holidays.
My two eldest boys have already been given a kids gratitude journal. I have given them that gift for no particular reason, other than I love them, and as a mother, I want to teach them that through gratitude they can find happiness and to remind them like the great Dr. Seuss book The Grinch that Stole Christmas, from the Grinch himself …
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. “Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”
MERRY CHRISTMAS … remember it is a time to give to others, to help and be kind. I ask you to think about what you spend your money on in a time when our planet is suffering from our wasteful ways. Remember to think about overindulgence. Do we really need to buy all this stuff? Will it still be wanted in 3 months time? Are you buying for the sake of it because you don’t know what they really want. Why don’t you know? Is it because they already have it all? Donate something on their behalf then. Do something GOOD this Christmas. Go on!