The days are getting longer and warmer. The urges to slow down, to cut loose and move into the total freedom of free ranging days of summer is growing in me. If you know me you may find that kinda odd seeing as we lead a life overflowing with freedom by most peoples standards :). Perhaps its a hang over from my youth, school holidays, long evening plays with friends in the pool, and of course Christmas.
I know many families who don’t celebrate Christmas and i honor their wishes and traditions. We however do celebrate Christmas, though for me i do admit Summer Solstice on the 22nd holds more meaning and spirituality for me and i have introduced those traditions to my children as well. But my children love Christmas, its not about the presents, its about family, special food, christmas lights, Christmas carols, the Christmas tree, advent calendars and the myrid of traditions that typically accompany the holiday – the presents are a fun addition. For me though Christmas is more about the energy of that time of year which attracts me, the magic and joy, the excitement that bubbles within the younger ones, the heart felt connection with those we love.
There are countless ideas out there for how to approach Christmas presents, from home made, to local, to different formula’s like:
“Something they want
Something they need
Something they wear
Something they read”
In my family we are currently (for the last couple years) approaching it around relationships. For me that is what it is about, a chance to show someone you love them, appreciate them and understand their unique loves. It is about creating joy. It is about what makes each person feel special and understood. That is not to say that we don’t do this everyday in some way, it’s more like an amplification of one of our most important family values. Instead of worrying about how many presents is too much, and how to make it even , which was the approach my parents took, or what the children need (that we think), or what would be an appropriate gift to foster learning, we decided to instead have each member of the family give each other member of the family a present that they choose to give them (within our budgetary allowance for the year). It is totally about from one person to the other with the intention of bring joy to that relationship. This means my daughter chooses something she knows or thinks her brother will really love, he does the same for her, etc. This means each of gives 3 presents and the 4th present everyone is given a sum of money to buy themselves a present! We also have a small present from Santa that is something unusual that they wouldn’t have thought of but will hopefully find joy in. I will add here that both my children know Santa is pretend, they have known since they first became aware of Christmas stories, they know the origins of the story, why people tell the story (including the marketing implications) etc but they have both chosen to enjoy playing the christmas game.
Some of the best presents have been around “doing something” for the other person rather than “buying something and i think i would like to expand that tradition this year. For example my husband buying me a new set of guitar strings -and stringing my guitar (which i don’t actually know how to do!) is probably the best present i could think of him giving me this year :). This doing rather than buying feels more real, more meaningful in terms of expressing love and connection, in building relationship and in celebrating each other. Giving of our time to further another person’s wellbeing or joy feels more special than giving them our money.
Regardless of how you choose to do Christmas i invite you to take a bit time this year before you brave the shops and think about what you want this holiday to mean , what you want it to be about for your family and what traditions you can put in place to support that.