I don’t know who else the applies to, but this one is from my heart.
A while back I took a really close look at my life. It’s amazing how far you can get only to realize that growing as a person never really stops. I came to the realization that my children EXPECTED a lot. I had/have entitled children and it (mom shame aside) is all my fault.
I don’t say that to feel sorry for myself or put myself down; I say it because I have realized that I can do better. I can parent with more purpose.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing gift guides to help with your holiday shopping. Before I do that, it is important to me that I share what giving and receiving gifts during the holidays means in our home.
I want the holidays to be remembered as a season of family, friendship, gratitude, and joy. Now, I love a material gift as much as the next person and I KNOW my kids might not understand right away why we are no longer showering them with gifts. Regardless, my hope is that I teach them the importance of intentional gifts instead of enabling the entitlement by giving them a sea of meaningless gifts (that we all know sometimes end up in a pile of unused toys).
In short, gift giving and receiving means the following to me:
- Receiving gifts: appreciate the thought and act behind it.
- Gift giving: Really think about the person you’re buying/making for.
- Secret Santa/Gift exchange: an opportunity to get to know someone better.
I want to share this mindset with my family and I figured I’d share it with you too!
1. Receiving gifts
When someone gives you a gift they are non verbally telling you that you matter. NO MATTER WHAT.
I know what you’re thinking… “Mel, not everyone gives gifts because they care. Some people do it out of obligation.” Aside the fact that we should never assume negative intent (we’ll get into that some other day), there is some truth to this… but hear me out.
We can choose to acknowledge their lack of interest OR we can learn to appreciate the act as if it is genuine EVERY SINGLE TIME. If you can learn to consistently practice gratitude when receiving gifts, the ripple effect of positive effects is almost endless!
Perspective. I have a story to tell from before you all knew me.
I was MORTIFIED when my brother handed my 8 year old daughter a 20 dollar bill for her birthday and she responded with, “This isn’t a present.”
No… not I am not joking. That’s when I started teaching the the importance of gratitude and intent. That day we painted rocks together. Alexa, my daughter, had the most amazing time. She was so excited to give one to her dad, her stepdad, and her grandma. When we were done, I asked her why she was so excited to give them her painted rocks. She told me about how her dad’s favorite colors are red and gold, about how Jeremy (her stepdad) likes cats and she drew whiskers on Jeremy’s rock for him.
When she gave her dads their rocks they thanked her for them with a smile on their face. That day a saying was born in our family. It doesn’t matter if someone gives you a rock; you appreciate them because all they wanted to do was make you happy.
Here is the ripple effect: The person receiving your gratitude is reassured that they are appreciated. They aren’t left with an empty feeling of obliged gifting.
If, for whatever reason, it’s obvious that it’s a mindless gift… at the end of the day someone went out of their way even for a minute to buy, order, or make something for you.
There is always something to appreciate.
2. Gift giving
This one is my favorite. Look at that face!
I love making people happy. Unfortunately, I have facilitated an environment in which making people happy has happened in one way during the holiday season: expensive gifts (and a lot of them). Of course, our intentions are always the best when we shower our loved ones with gifts for Christmas, but it is a recipe for entitlement.
This year we are using this season to teach (by example) how to give gifts with intention. What exactly does that mean? Well… there just might be less gifts under the tree from here on out. Are any of us missing out on anything because of it? Not even a little bit. (Honestly, I’m giving myself the gift of a clutter free home by doing this)
That brings me to my point. What are we replacing gifts with? Nothing. I’m simply shopping/searching with experience, tradition, and memories in mind. Don’t mistake what I’m say with, “No more material gifts… Ever.”
For example, I gift my little family these Christmas season care packages and they are full of hot cocoa packets, cozy pajamas, and anything else I think they can use for our family mornings/nights. I am consciously giving the gift of tradition, quality family time, and comfort.
When you give a gift, you want to make their lives a little easier, more comfortable, or more fun! It’s an opportunity to really do something for them that they can’t or won’t do themselves.
3. Secret Santa/Gift exchange
I wanted to touch on this before wrapping up this blog post.
The one time it actually is obligatory to gift someone is for family gift exchanges and secret Santa. Instead of stressing out about what to get this person or that it’s “just one more person to buy for”, use it as an opportunity to get to know someone on an intimate level.
Don’t know what to get your secret Santa match up? Start a conversation. Have coffee with them. Connect with another person and learn what you can do for them as their secret Santa.
I hope this helps take some of the stress of the holidays off of your shoulders. However you celebrate the holiday, make sure it’s a way that brings you true joy. I, for one, am over glorifying the “holiday madness” and I’m ready to enjoy the holidays with my family!
Until next time!