Growing up as an only child, I experienced Christmas on steroids. Every Christmas my mom took me to get the coveted picture with Santa and she’d inevitably buy the deluxe package of photos which she still displays every holiday season with pride.
Mom took such pride in providing the perfect holiday for me, even taking time to meticulously mark out Santa’s footprints across the house. And every December 25th I would wake to a living room full of presents – all for me.
I had everything a kid could have every wanted, but by the 26th I was bored with all of my “stuff”.
Fast forward fifteen years and I found myself at my first and only Black Friday. In 2009 I ventured into retail hell, setting my alarm at 2:00 AM and mapping out a route through Target and Best Buy.
My credit card got as much of a workout as I did that day, and by the end I realized it would never happen again. I compulsively bought things I didn’t need for all the wrong reasons and felt empty inside. I was left completely void of the spirit of Christmas.
Years have passed and with each December my husband and I have developed our own holiday traditions. Our first was to never buy a single item on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday. These days bring only stress to our family and dilute the meaning of our holiday.
A few years ago we began packaging up our leftovers and dropping them off to first responders and on-duty military; last year we added to the tradition by baking cookies on Christmas Day to deliver, as well.
With the birth of our first child and his first Christmas we decided to pass on gifts all together, though last year we decided one gift each is a nice little treat. And this year we added The Kindness Elves; think Elf on a Shelf with the focus on giving. I absolutely love this new tradition and look forward to watching the family fulfill our holiday visitors’ requests!
I understand the way we choose the celebrate the holidays isn’t for everyone, but our family has found that these traditions based on giving, sharing, and spreading joy demonstrate, for us, the true holiday spirit and create a more meaningful holiday season.
This year I challenge everyone to step back and think what this season is about and adopt a tradition of giving. I’d love to hear how you make your holiday season more meaningful!