We all want to give our children the best in life that we can offer. That can look like a lot of things – a stable home life, a good education, lots of warmth and love, and a successful future.
But when it comes to gift-giving, that can look like a lot of excess – expensive birthday parties, way too many gifts under the tree at Christmas, and overload that ruins the spirit of giving the gift to begin with.
My old approach to Christmas could be summed up in one word: big.
I’d jam one hundred brightly wrapped presents under our enormous tree. But several years ago, something changed. As I watched my two sons open gift after gift on Christmas morning, I saw their eyes begin to glaze over. I paid attention. I saw them pick one or two gifts to enjoy and leave the others behind, overwhelmed, overstimulated, and perhaps a bit over it. That’s when I realized: All of this wasn’t for them. It was for me. And worse, it was teaching my boys the wrong things.
I thought to myself, “You are destroying Christmas. This is not what Christmas is about. This is not what you want your children to become – entitled brats who want more and more stuff.”
After that Christmas, we moved to this gift-giving structure: something you want, something you need, something you wear, and something you read.
Instead of buying every gift they could ever want, we got super thoughtful about gift-giving. We found that they were much more discerning about what they desired and were more grateful for what they received. I did not come up with this concept myself – I heard it years ago. But I have to admit, it’s changed our family. We all felt both lighter and enriched, as well as truly heard and seen.