Yesterday, my brother was telling me about a project he and my 11-year old niece came up with. They are spending time together making winter scarves and offering them as a thank you to anyone who wishes to make a donation to the Salvation Army. What a great father – daughter undertaking at this time of year.
He went on to tell me that instead of a holiday gift exchange, his children had all agreed to a have a "good – deed exchange". Instead of supporting mass commercialism, they would give of their time and energies to help each other, or folks in need. Okay, now that really speaks to me about what this holiday season is supposed to be about.
His family is not alone. I have another close friend whose family has decided to have one big family party instead of a gift exchange. The adults are having a potluck supper and enjoying each other’s company without anyone feeling the burden of "cooking and hosting" the traditional meal. The children are painting T-shirts together as a remembrance of family and the holidays. The holiday money is being used to finance a family trip to be together.
These two families reminded me that we don’t have to keep up with old holiday traditions – we can make our own meaningful new ones. They challenge our thinking: do you really need MORE "stuff"? Maybe some time together is really what your children are aching for.
I am not sure I can do away with being a gift giver that quickly, but I have decided that I’d rather put my money towards experiences we can all enjoy together: Theatre tickets, a family pass on a ski hill, that sort of thing.
Just a thought you might want to noodle around too.
About the Author:
Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine. Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”. She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com.