it's not about the gifts

Growing up, we didn't have much money. It was tough but I don't ever remember being unhappy about it. I know the holidays were hard on my mom, she wanted to give us the world, but she couldn't. There just wasn't enough to go around.

We didn't have many decorations. We had a small tree with some ornaments and lights. We didn't take Christmas pictures or have special Christmas outfits. We didn't send out Christmas cards with our pictures plastered on the front or write a family newsletter to mail out. We didn't have mountains of gifts under the tree.

Yet, we managed to make some really awesome memories.

Christmas has never been about gifts for us. My younger brother and I got one thing each year. My mom made sure to get us that one thing that was at the top of our lists (which weren't long and frivolous either, because we knew better).

No, it wasn't about presents. It was about spending time together. We would watch Christmas movies, snuggled on the couch with our Swiss Miss hot chocolate. We would spend a day baking pumpkin bread and cookies. We would make a nice dinner together. We would take a walk, go to the park, regular run of the mill stuff but somehow, our hearts swelled with love and the magic of the holiday.

I want my boys to think of Christmas as a time to be with family and not about getting a bunch of presents. Sure, it's exciting to get gifts but I don't want it to be the focus of the day.

I nearly hyperventilated the other day as I stared at the aisles of toys. I want to get my boys everything. I suddenly felt inadequate. I didn't get them enough, they need more. Memories flooded my mind and I remembered. It's not about the toys. It's about something much bigger and more special than that. Making memories with family.

So, change the focus this year, make it special. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Make some family traditions (my mom use to get us up really late on Christmas Eve to open our presents by candle light, so special to my heart)
  • Make a special meal where everyone lends a hand
  • Go see the Christmas lights and decorations
  • Watch a marathon of Christmas movies
  • Stay in your pj's all day
  • Play games
  • Do puzzles
  • Play Christmas music 
  • Play at the park
  • Go hiking or take a family walk
  • Make your own decorations
  • Write letters to the people in your family, talk about the memories you enjoyed throughout the year


  1. This is so lovely - and it's true the toy isles/catalogues/websites are overwhelming for sure. Shared this with the positive parenting connection community page :)

  2. Thanks for sharing! It really isn't about the gifts!


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