When I reflect back on past holidays, the memories that jump forward in my mind are the moments of laughter; the family movie nights when we gathered together to watch Christmas favorites; the evenings when we would drive around the neighborhood enjoying the holiday light displays with a warm bowl of popcorn; and, the hours spent rolling out and decorating cookies with our daughters. Even if I tried, I really couldn’t list out all of the many different gifts that were exchanged over the years. My most cherished memories have nothing to do with the packages that were opened, and everything to do with the heart-to-heart moments that were shared as a family.
Most people begin the annual hunt for gifts by the time Halloween has passed. They spend a large portion of their free time fighting crowded parking lots and shopping malls as they spend their money on “things” that, for many, end up leaving them in debt for months to come. The entire process, from start to finish, leaves many feeling exhausted, stressed out and frustrated.
Quite a few years ago, we decided to take a vacation over the Christmas holiday, instead of exchanging gifts, and place the emphasis on spending time together. Our daughters, who were in their late teens, were surprisingly on-board with the idea of eliminating gifts that year. I could never have anticipated what happened next.
Something seemed to click inside each of us that year. We realized that by dispensing with the gift giving, we were able to really enjoy the festivities of the holidays at a much deeper level. The following year, even though we had no plans to travel, we all agreed to forego the presents, once again, and enjoy a more low-key, relaxed holiday season. When we made a conscious decision to stop exchanging gifts, it was as if a deep sigh of relief washed over us. Each year, we incorporated new, fun activities that became family traditions which, I’m happy to say, are now being carried down to our grandchildren. On Christmas day, we now take time as a family to worship, share a delicious meal, watch our favorite holiday movies and play games together.
Think back to your most favorite Christmas memories and see what comes to mind. Then, ask yourself what your holiday might look like if you chose to ignore the commercialism and gave the gift of love & togetherness.
At a time when so many people are allowing social media and the quest to become successful to alienate them from those they care about, it’s more important than ever to make an effort to reconnect and give the gift of togetherness. These are the gifts that we hold on to forever. These are the gifts that we carry forward, from this life to the next.
I wish each and every one of you a blessed holiday season!