Presence. Not presents.
Do you remember this little guy?
And do you remember what happened to him? He was left Home Alone. His family was so wrapped up in the craze of getting ready for Christmas that they literally left him home alone.
Let me start here by saying that I am NOT worried about a single one of you forgetting about your kids this holiday season! You signed up for this challenge because you are committed to slowing down and remembering what really matters.
Imagine your child under the Christmas tree right now with a few gifts that truly reflect his personality, passions, and developmental needs. Imagine your child immersed in simple gifts that speak to exactly who she is; she feels that is truly known. He is full of joy, excitement, and wonder. Without the distraction of a pile of gifts she is fully enthralled in play, which is where true learning takes place for children.
You know that your children actually thrive more with less stuff in their lives. You know that your children want your time, love, and meaningful experience, rather than a mountain of gifts under the Christmas tree. You know in your gut that the pressure to spend more and accumulate more actually takes little and big kids away from growing into our true, authentic selves.
But what do you do when other people in your circle don't get your desire to simplify and focus on PRESENCE instead of PRESENTS? How do you explain to your parents, siblings, and in-laws that you aren't the Grinch and you have very good reasons for minimizing the amount of gifts your child receives this year?
Oh, I have SO many tips for you! To keep things simple ;), I'm going to share three ideas:
1. Don't be afraid to give direction to your family members about gift-giving. You could start by suggesting homemade gifts (for the crafty ones in your family), gifts collected outdoors (for the nature lovers), or simply ask a loved one to pass a treasured belonging down to your kiddo from their own childhood.
Also, feel free to share catalogs that have items you think will evoke imaginative play, learning, and joy. Here are two places that I send our loved ones to for beautiful playthings:
2. Create a collection. Ask your loved ones to get your child a copy of their favorite childhood book. How cool would it be for your child to have the favorite books of all her favorite people?
Or, you could ask your loved ones to help you build a toy kitchen set from real items in their own homes: tea cups, an old tea pot, small spoons, cloth napkins, small pots & pans, etc. What kind of collection would your child truly love? Maybe you and the whole family can work together to build that special gift!
3. Plan for the future. Maybe your parents and in-laws would consider putting the money they'd spend on gifts in an account for your child. I know that many grandparents spend MUCH more than $50 on birthday and Christmas presents every year. Let's just say that they spend $50 on each celebration ($100 per year).
By the time your kid is 20, that would add up to $2,000 (plus interest).
This could go towards college, world travel, a new car, this money could help provide a life-changing experience for your child as a young adult! Imagine how delighted and grateful your child will be at this amazing surprise when he is older.
These are just a few ideas. Think about your own family. What ideas do you feel will most resonate with them AND ensure that your child is getting the connection, experience, and message about love you want her to receive?
I was so happy when Macaulay was reunited with his Mom at the end of Home Alone. His family's presence was all that he really needed to feel that all was well with the world.
Harmonious Holiday Action Steps:
1. Remember that YOU (the parents) know what is best for your child. If you feel clear that less is more this holiday season don't be afraid to lovingly share some gift ideas with your family members who want to shower your little one in presents (which means they really want to shower him in love. This is a concrete way to do so.).
2. Choose to feel no stress about this. Once you have lovingly expressed your desires for your child, let it go. Be in the moment and embody your desire for simplicity and loving connection.
3. Honor the giver. When people give your child gifts, they want to make her happy! When a gift is accepted gratefully the intent has been fulfilled. You have every right to set boundaries for your child and decide what toys stay and which toys go in your home (the giver won't be keeping tabs on this!). Remember that you want to honor the loving place the giver was coming from and then feel free to decide which (and how many) toys are best for your child's play space longterm.
To presence over presents,