Christmas is coming and I want to pick up the family and move to a deserted island until it is over. Some family members are very generous and overindulge in shopping for others. I cringe while they cheer “This is what Christmas is all about” as they substitute an opened gift for an unopened gift into the lap of a grandchild, making the child feel like they are working on a conveyor belt at a factory. Instead, all the child wants to do is play with the one toy they were wishing for. At the end of all the chaos, that’s what happens; the children play with one or two items and the rest of the “stuff” is put away on bookcases and closets. The children don’t remember everything they received as gifts as the process is such a blur. How can this be fun?
Since last Christmas, I have been asking family members to consider contributing towards activities or outings that the children might enjoy – such as going to an NHL hockey game and make it a gift for the boys, their dad and their grandpa, golf camp which they would love to try, or a family winter trip to a ski lodge – instead of buying “stuff”. Let’s create experiences which can lead to making memories that everyone can enjoy together or a special outing with the children and their grandparents or aunt and uncle.
“But what will they unwrap on Christmas?” is the response I receive. Perhaps a set of hockey trading cards (from the dollar store) with their game day tickets, perhaps a toboggan (from Walmart) with a picture of the ski lodge stuck to it. Some of these ideas are a bit expensive but stop and think about how much is spent on the “stuff”. It all adds up.
Other ideas for gifts could be:
* family summer passes to the zoo or local water park – something to look forward to this summer
* tickets to a local theatre production – which could make everyone laugh
* a swingset or trampoline
I am optimistic that this year could be the Christmas that we start to create experiences. We hoping to be giving one and sharing one – hoping this starts a tradition.