Recently, I have been thinking about consumerism and of course, the holidays. As an individual and a parent, I aspire to desire less and be increasingly content with my life. This is tough, especially around the holidays. I was overwhelmed in Target last night trying to pick out Christmas presents for my girls. I literally wanted to run out of the store. I was so inundated with choices and so convinced that my kids didn’t really “need” any of this ______ (insert word of choice). Keep reading if you want to see what my wife and I finally chose for our girls.
As it turns out, it is better to give than to receive.
Later the same night, I watched an excellent presentation by Martin Seligman, PhD on Positive Psychology. His research has shown that the pleasure of receiving a gift does not last nearly as long as the joy you get from giving to someone else. I thought this was interesting and certainly true in my experience.
However, it is awfully hard to opt out of the cycle of a consumer driven Christmas experience. I think there are some ways, that don’t involve shopping, to make our holiday celebrations more joyful and meaningful. We can participate in giving and sharing without limitation, except for that of our own creativity of course.
Here are a couple of ideas, well 21 to be exact.
1. Only give homemade gifts
2. Review photos from 2010
3. Give of your time or talent
4. Go on a walk to see Christmas lights
5. Stay away from Target & Costco when possible
6. Drink tea in front of a fire
7. Teach your kids about the real St. Nicholas
8. Share holiday struggles with a trusted friend
9. Go caroling
10. Read the Christmas story
11. Make dinner for some friends
12. Write an appreciation letter to your spouse or child
13. Volunteer your time for a charity
14. Attend a church service
15. Give intangibles (experiences)
16. Go check out Weaver’s Winter Wonderland in Rohnert Park, CA
17. Don’t over schedule
18. Try to avoid complaining
19. Search for meaning and wonder even in disappointment and pain
20. Share the best moments of 2010 with someone special
21. Be grateful (it takes practice)
PS. In case you are interested, we eventually decided to buy the girls personalized art supplies. They are so creative and absolutely caught up with coloring and painting. I was very happy with this choice, because I know they will love it and it will also encourage their developing abilities.