The older I get, the more I struggle with the materialism of Christmas. I think it’s worse this year than the past because we have a baby on the way — babies are generally considered to require a lot of stuff — and because we moved in the last year, and still have an absolutely atrocious amount of stuff that we’re struggling to find room for. Generally speaking, I want less stuff — not more.
This struggle with the accumulation of stuff is something that becomes especially acute when it the annual request for Christmas lists comes in from one side of the family. I’m not keen on providing a list of more stuff that I supposedly want when truly, I do not want for anything. And while I know it’s not intended to come across this way, I just can’t help but feeling like, “Don’t they know me well enough to have some idea of what I like or what I’m into?”
We’ve had some success with focusing on investing in experiences for the kids on one side of my family, and I think that’s really appreciated by the parents as well as the little people. But these types of gifts have gone over like lead balloons with the other side of the family. I don’t really know why this hasn’t been successful except that some feedback we’ve gotten included that the family is to busy for such gifts, even though we’ve consciously tried to choose experiences that were super flexible. (As an aside, this is a big hint to GTA attractions: Get your gift certificate side of the biz going! It’s incredible how few attractions offer family passes or gift certificates. Talk about a missed opportunity!)
I realize we can’t change (or apparently even influence) the ideology of other families, but these challenges makes me think deeply about what I want for mine. Because of this struggle with the accumulation of stuff, I really enjoyed reading the article 16 Ways to Help Children Want Less by Jo Hegerty. It contains excellent ideas I hope to foster in my own family. I thank my friend Alice for sharing it; at least I know she and I are on the same page when it comes to focusing less on stuff. The real challenge as we increase our family size by one will be asking our families to respect our ideologies around accumulation of stuff — something I anticipate to be no small feat.