The true holiday season is here. I say that because one might be confused, since we start seeing stores with holiday decorations everywhere in September these days. It’s one of my pet peeves that I thought I would unload on you all.
Anyway, back to the point. Because the holiday season is pushed on us so early, planning starts sooner. Buying stuff starts sooner. We start working to make sure our children and family feel loved through the number of wrapped gifts under the tree.
Like many, I have fallen into the scenario a little too much. In an interview I did with the mental health director at Children’s Hospital Colorado in 2022, she talked about how social media has created this “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. Our families must look like they are doing the best, getting the best and having the most.
She is not wrong. If you look at my posts, you will think I do nothing but spend quality time with the children, am always happy and never face adversity.
So, we buy stuff — a lot of stuff to pack under the Christmas tree. However, I keep going back to a study I read a few years ago about how some families are spending less on Christmas and more on quality time. That quality time can come in the form of a trip together to a place you’ve never been.
This year, I did that. I spent money on several trips with my children. We had a wonderful experience in Oregon. We explored the coast, enjoyed the scenery, and went crabbing, which my son absolutely had a blast doing.
We are several months past the trip, and you still hear the kids on occasion talking about the fun memories. That alone proved to me the study was correct.
Today, you look in their room at some of the barely used Christmas gifts from last year and they are just shoved in the closet. Not talked about, not really played with.
I tried to really set a spending limit this year, focusing on a few gifts they would love, use and keep.
I actively work to get rid of the idea that I am somehow a better mother because they have 100 gifts under the tree.
My mom often tells a story about how poor her family was. Her widowed mom worked to take care of seven children, which meant not a lot of extra money. My mom and her brothers and sisters got one gift a year. They were proud of that gift. They knew their mom had to work extra and stretch every penny to make it happen.
Today, my own kids do not really have that level of appreciation for the things they have. It’s tough to teach it sometimes, too, when I get wrapped up in how much they should get.
It is going to take time to truly meet my goals of not going overboard to make sure my children get gifts in quantity rather than quality, but it is a priority as I move forward.
The stuff under the tree is treated that way for the majority of the year. It just becomes stuff that does not create memories or appreciation and eventually heads to Goodwill.
Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.