Several years ago we quit Christmas. We stopped putting up a tree. There were very little decorations. We almost completely stopped buying gifts.
I remember the anticipation of Christmas very well from my childhood. I was completely centered on the gifts. Sitting in front of that pile of gifts was so exciting. But every single Christmas, even if I got exactly what I wanted, there was still that let down when it was all over. It was even worse if I didn’t have all my wishes come true. We never wanted our kids to experience that.
I personally am relieved every year when I find myself NOT counting down the days until Christmas. As a child I was excited for it but then later, as an adult, it was incredibly stressful.
We are not against gifts. We still give them. Our children have every single toy. They have boxes and boxes of Lego. They have games, action figures, tablets, books, remote control vehicles, air soft guns, toy swords, bow and arrows, slingshots, stuffed animals and puppies and kittens, too! But Christmas does not equal gifts to them.
I do not mean to say that we have got everything figured out. Every year I think that we will plan ahead. We will have what we are going to do decided and our reasons for not participating in something clearly defined. But we don’t. Perhaps it is good not to set anything in stone.
I do want you to know that we do not go around saying everyone else is wrong. We respect the traditions of others and your reasons are your own. I am even willing to consider that there might be valuable lessons for children to have the gift frenzy and aftermath. So, far, though, the changes we have made have been positive for us.
This year, as my husband and I headed to town for doctor’s appointments and errands, I turned to him and said, “Should we do anything for Christmas?” Ideas started tumbling out of my mouth and I got excited about doing some investing. Investing in business ideas and supporting our children in paths that will lead them to valuable life lessons.
My father gave our boys a little money this past summer and told them to start a business with it. One of our ideas was that our eldest son should buy a weed whacker and hire himself out to our neighbors. With a little help from Daniel and I we can outfit him in the proper gear. For our other son, we are sorting out some kind of educational experience for him. I have checked into cooking classes, art classes, and physical education.
During my research I have also gotten wonderful lists from my boys about things they would like to learn. Our 11-year-old son, Andrew’s, list looks like this:
Lucas, who is almost 9, wrote:
One of our personal challenges is how far we live out of town. It would be a 30 mile drive one way to attend a class. In order to learn some of these things we have decided to purchase DVDs to watch at home. That way, we can also learn together as a family. It is exciting to think about pushing back the couch in the evenings and following along together to learn jiu jitsu.
Some other thoughts are to maybe hire a professional to teach private classes. There are many experts out there who love their craft and are willing to teach. To make it financially feasible we could gather some other families together. I think this would work well for dance lessons, cooking, and art.
I know there are many other things I haven’t thought of. I would love to hear what you think. Perhaps you’d like to share your Christmas traditions. You may even criticize me if you’d like!