I love a good gift as much as the next mid forties mom living in a small community, but I am struggling with Christmas this year. I love the baking and the decorating and the parties, but I am tired of the buying. It’s hard for me to think of a useful gift for my girls other than some quality books from our local book store. I understand that my kids want stuff, but they don’t need it. How many years have to go by until they appreciate each gift they receive? Is that even possible in this day and age? I know I have a coating of Bah Humbug on me but I just can’t seem to help it.
We are slowly trying to change things at our house. More making and baking and less shopping. Most of our gifts to friends are jams and truffles we’ve made, garlic from our garden and eggs from our hens. We’ve been making our own decorations. We asked permission from our neighbour to cut a tree from their land. We wanted a scrubby Charlie Brown jupiner as they are native to this area instead of buying the perfect tree. Jess and I keep reminding ourselves that the kids will remember the memories of the things we’ve done as opposed to the gifts they received. But they still want stuff. Our society has missed the meaning of Christmas. It is not about what you can get, but what you can give. And giving what matters, not just unconscious buying. I know most of you know this, but then why do our kids constantly want more?
This is what I proposed to my girls this year. Every kid gets a $200 budget. They can choose $100 worth of stuff for themselves, and then choose $100 to donate to a local charity. They need to think about what issues matter to them and their community and then we will donate to their chosen cause. Ruby and I saw some pamphlets for Reaching for Rainbows. It is an after school program in Picton for young girls who need “a boost of self confidence, a smidgeon of good decision making, and a pinch of problem solving. ” Some of those girls attend my daughter’s school. So that is our first donation. Wini has always been an animal lover, so her choice is going to be related to animal welfare. We need to do a bit more research on our local animal charities before we decide. Reya and I were listening to Metro Morning on CBC this morning. There was a reporter in Aleppo describing the horrors in that city. We could hear bombs and gunfire in the background as he spoke. Reya looked at me and said “I want to donate to the Syrians.” Prince Edward County sponsors three families from Syria. We have donated clothes, books, and household items to them in the past, but this December they get Reya’s $100.
My goal is that every year, the $200 ratio will tip more in the favour of charities, and less as stuff under the tree. Everyone has the ability to look around them and see the need or ignore it. There are so many without family, housing, and food. Find those people and reach out. It doesn’t have to involve money. Invite someone to dinner, donate your time, visit a neighbour you know is alone this holiday season. And if you have money to give, then give it freely to those that need it. You’ll soon learn you don’t need as much as you think.