Anyone who knows me will know that I absolutely love Christmas. I love everything about it, from the carols, decorations and festive movies to the scrummy food and wonderful time spent with family and friends. Its a magical time of year which brings everyone together but it can get over commercialised and the real meaning lost along the way.
I always try to do activities with my children throughout December that remind them it isn’t just about the presents on Christmas morning but about giving and sharing as well. Last year we made a list of items to buy for the local food bank. The kids came with me to the shop and ticked each item off their list, then we boxed it all up and dropped it off at the local collection point. I want them to understand that not everyone is as fortunate as us to have a lovely big Christmas dinner and lots of goodies. They really took it to heart, particularly Lois who is such a caring, compassionate little girl. I plan to carry on doing this with them every year so they get to appreciate how lucky we are.
Christmas in my eyes is also about spending quality time together and enjoying each others company. This year I’ve scaled back the amount of gifts they receive and have asked family members to do the same. My parents are giving us a National Trust annual pass instead of gifts which I can’t wait to start using. What gift could be better than a whole years worth of free days out?! It will bring us far more enjoyment and quality time together than any amount of toys could.
You see my new motto is ‘Spend less, Do more’. We need to stop buying ‘stuff’ just for the hell of it because we like it or its nice because quite frankly this house is full of enough crap as it is. I’ve been watching the kids the last couple of weeks and actually there are only certain toys that really get played with. I guarantee you if I asked each of them what they got for Christmas last year or even their birthdays they wouldn’t be able to remember. But they do remember the trips we’ve been on this year and the outings that we’ve had. They even remember the ones we’ve done previous years. Lois is still talking about Butlins which we went to in July and is desperate to go back again. “Do you remember that boat ride we went on Mum where I was really scared? That was fun!” They all still talk about the Santa sleepover weekend we did at Chessington last December as if it was yesterday. And that’s what got me thinking. They aren’t going to remember any of these gifts, but they will remember our adventures because those are the important times, the special moments, the memories that last a lifetime. And I want to make more of those.
So today I’ve taken a load of the gifts I’d bought and I’ve distributed them around the grandparents and great-grandparents for them to give the kids instead. They’ll have a smaller pile from Santa this year but it will be the things they really want and will actually play with instead of the mountains of ‘stuff’ they end up with every year which barely gets touched. And we’ll have more money in our pockets to go out and ‘do’ things. In fact I want to start a new tradition this year where there will be an envelope left by Santa with tickets for an adventure somewhere for the whole family as our ‘main’ gift and then just a handful of carefully chosen gifts for each child. Knowing my kids they will love it as they really enjoy going out and ‘doing things’ and I think they will appreciate it so much more than a huge pile of presents.
Here’s hoping anyway!!