CHRISTMAS! This time of year is such a wondrous experience. Lights, food, trees, snow, music, joy and good tidings and lots and lots of gifts and shopping!
But, I always cringe a bit when I see the last one – Gifts and Shopping. They don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but it’s the way we have been conditioned to view it. The bigger the gift the better. The more gifts the better. Shopping at malls is a programed response that is evident by the sheer amount of people in these places this time of year.
I can’t help but wonder if these same people united in a deeper cause like they do with the programmed activity of ‘shopping’ what this world would be like? Hmm…food for thought.
Let me be clear about this – this is not a post to ask you to ditch all your possessions, live in an igloo and be happy about it. Although that might be fairly freeing, it’s not a level most of us can jump to right away. This post is about contemplating and being AWARE of the things you do this Season that depend on you buying things ( whether they are needed or not) and then the things that depend on you just BEING there and sharing in something wonderful.
I used to BUY into the idea that to be important, to be something in the world I had to have lots of money and lots of things. As I became a mother and a parent to two new little humans, this started to change. My values started to shift from consuming, to that of minimizing. At first this was forced on me as a single parent with extremely limited income. I had to choose between rent and lots of gifts for my kids under the tree. This was not a peaceful place to be, and it started to frustrate me. WHY do I feel like ‘less’ of a mother because I don’t have lots of ‘things’ under the tree that my kids don’t even need?
I’ve always enjoyed the Dr. Suess version of ‘Scrooge’ because it spoke to the part of me that was angry about all the consumption, and too much. I was angry that I didn’t have enough to give and that I felt ‘less than’ because of it. I was angry, angry ANGRY! BAH HUMBUG!
I started to focus more on what made this Season so Special and what I remember as being so spellbinding as a child and these are the things that came up for me:
- Less work and more Play. ( as a child this meant no school and more play time)
- The adults around me were brighter and happier.
- There was a sense of peace and joy.
- Lots and lots of good food.
- A feeling of sharing, connecting and loving.
- Lots of lights and ‘light’ – the world felt brighter and shinier.
- Visiting family that I might not have even seen all year.
- Lots of laughter, jokes, music.
- Christmas TV specials like ‘Rudolph, Frosty etc’.
- Snow, sledding, snowballs and skating.
Notice how none of that includes the ‘buying’ of gifts, or even the ‘getting’ of gifts? What I enjoyed was the overall ‘feeling’ of this Season. Somehow everyone seemed more complete, more happy, more peaceful – and as a child that is a wondrous thing to experience.
SHOPPING has NOTHING to do with it. Except perhaps ingredients to make all the lovely food – but even then, food is something we need, and at this time of year it’s the TYPE of food that we all enjoy. Yet, we all complain how MUCH we eat, which again isn’t necessary.
The EXCESS is the problem, and I think it is time to let that go.
Things like ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Boxing Day’ Shopping are the current extremes that bring validity to my point. It’s gone too far, and many people don’t even take a moment to ‘consider’ what it is they are trying to obtain by buying the ‘next best thing’ – Do they realize they are being brainwashed by the companies that make money off them? Do they realize that the iphone they have from last year still works perfectly fine for what it is intended for, and that buying the newest one will not bring them a sense of completeness and joy?
If you are a single parent, you don’t need this stress and pressure to buy your kids the latest gadgets and things. If you focus on teaching them the things that are TRULY valuable they will understand, and they will unite with you on this. Kids LOVE life and they love the simple things in life. Have you ever seen a baby play with the box their new toy came in and ignore the toy? It’s the parents that teach them that consuming is the way to happiness, because we have been taught that. Children emulate what they see, so if you don’t fall into the trap, they won’t either.
LET GO of the need to consume this season and all year round. LET go of the need for the best of fashion, electronics, cars, shoes etc. Focus on the things in your life that bring VALUE to you. Below is a list of ways you can shift your mindset this Holiday to let yourself off the hook and to enjoy BEING more rather than GETTING more this Christmas.
Make THIS your Holiday ‘To Do’ List:
- Be Present instead of buying lots of presents.
- Give of your time and love instead of lots of presents and do a ‘secret santa’ in your family so you only need to get a gift for one person.
- Have Gratitude for all the bounty you DO have around you like food, shelter, water and family.
- Have Gratitude for your health and the health of your family.
- Make gifts and food with the resources at your disposal, focus on the intent of the gift.
- Practice Kindness and Compassion for those who have trouble with this time of year, this may mean it’s you who needs to give it to you.
- Donate food and things to those less fortunate. ( single parents, homeless, low income)
- Instead of buying new clothes, get rid of the ones you don’t wear and donate them to someone who needs them.
- Identify WANT over NEED – refuse to get the two confused. Ask yourself if you REALLY need it.
- Get Crafty – a hand written card and home made gift is something special because you put your heart into it.
Focus on the INTENT and the true MEANING of this Season. It’s all about connection, family, love, joy and the feelings that come with all being united in a cause. Really, that is all Christmas is and why most of us like it so much – we are united in a goal, whether we truly understand that goal or not, we are all conspiring together to make it happen. That sense of community and connection is what we all crave, and I guarantee you it won’t be found in the next generation of iphone.
For those of you who are stressed, scared and otherwise feeling desperate this Season because you don’t have the means to buy lots of gifts and ‘things’ that nobody needs anyway – this is for you. I support you, we support you – your time, your person and your energy are all we need this Christmas. You are loved because of YOU, not because of how much STUFF you have. Especially by your kids – YOU are the one thing they cannot thrive without.
Go sing some Christmas Carols with the kids and take a walk outside. Enjoy the bounty and beauty that is all around you and take some time this Holiday to be present to everyone in your life who you love.
Resources for Single Parent Families – Beat Bureaucracy
Families in need during Christmas – YWCA
Check out this website to learn more about ‘minimizing’ in your life – The Minimalists