The process of buying Christmas gifts for our children produces a slight amount of inner turmoil.
I want them to have the joy and excitement of Christmas morning. A big pile of presents to dive into. I want to assure their happiness when something their sweet little soul was hoping Santa would bring them ends up under the tree.
But I don’t want a lot of excess stuff in our home. I know the stress and chaos that it brings after that big pile of presents have been unwrapped. I know the kids play better and are actually happier when they have less. I know we want to intentionally spend our money on other things that make more sense for our family. I also don’t want to overemphasize the importance of stuff.
This year I shopped early and over purchased. As I looked over the items I bought and mentally pictured them in combination with the many other gifts they will receive from other relatives, anxiety kicked in. Where is this stuff going to go and how much time am I going to have to spend taking care of it?
I realized the gifts haven’t been given yet, I can still return them. So, I did. Not all of them, but a lot.
I was talking with my mom on the phone not long after this and she wanted to know what to get the kids for Christmas. I told her it didn’t really matter what she gave them, they were just looking forward to time spent with her.
After getting off the phone I started thinking about this more and realized perhaps I need to take my own advice. I began thinking about my childhood memories of Christmas. With 100 percent certainty, it wasn’t any particular gift, with the exception of my Mammy’s homemade knitted socks and mittens.
What I do remember is Christmas Eve at my Mammy’s (my mom’s mom) house where all the family on that side would gather to enjoy her tourtiere pie. We’d smoosh into the small living room and open gifts, but it wasn’t the actual gift itself I remember, just the act of doing it altogether. I could have opened a coloring book and a pack of crayons that cost two dollars and been perfectly happy. It wasn’t the cost or number of gifts. It was being there in her home surrounded by family that felt so nice.
We would always go to my Grandmother’s (dad’s mom’s) house on Christmas Day. Here I vividly remember her amazing gingerbread men cookies with yummy frosting and raisins. The meal of turkey with all the fixings and the homemade rolls. Those rolls were so good. The playroom where her nutcracker collection was displayed and her gumdrop tree that I ate many gumdrops off of.
I remember the can of spray snow that she used to decorate the windows. I remember gathering around the tree in this room where we all opened presents but I can’t remember one single particular present. Again, it was the act of being together.
The point of all this is the actual present didn’t matter to me. What I remember is the memories of the simple traditions surrounding both sides of my family.
Processing all of this helped me even further to realize that perhaps the expectations of Christmas morning are ones that I am projecting onto my children. That the kids are not looking forward to a particular gift this year, just the act of unwrapping any present surrounded by their family. Short of being nothing under the tree, there was probably very little I could do to disappoint them come Christmas morning.
Maybe their holiday cup has already been filled up this month by the fun activities we have been doing. Our Christmas Advent Calendar they look forward to every morning, our drive at night to go look at the lights, decorating Christmas cookies, warm hot chocolate with whip cream and candy canes after playing hard in the first big snowstorm of the year, reading Christmas book upon Christmas books snuggled by the fire, getting our Christmas tree, listening to Christmas music, watching endless Christmas movies.
The more I reflect on my childhood memories the more I believe these are the things that my children will carry with them into adulthood and I can relax a little bit about what actually ends up under the tree.
About the Author: Nikki Cox is a mommy of two striving to clear away the clutter both physical and emotional so she can live life with intention and clarity. Find her at Lovelylucidlife.com.