A Different Christmas Tradition

giftwrappedWe have officially entered into the busiest season of the year.  This time of year is supposed to be focused around celebrating time with loved ones, but sadly for most, the holiday season becomes the most stressful time of year.  In the mix of spending countless hours searching for a gift, waiting in long lines, and maxing out credit cards, we lose sight of what is most important during this holiday season – the gift of time with each other. Time is the most powerful expression of love – there is no price you can place on it.

Four years ago after cleaning up a mountain of destroyed Christmas wrapping paper, I decided enough was enough.  I was experiencing anxiety trying to find places for my new Christmas gifts to be stored, and guilt knowing that I couldn’t give anything away because it had been given to me by a family member – yet I didn’t want all the items I’d received.

It was time to do something different.  It was time to simplify Christmas.

The following year I proposed a new idea for Christmas.  Listed below were the guidelines for each family member:

1)         Purchase one gift for yourself. No other gift purchases are necessary.

2)        There is no minimum or maximum price on the gift.  Choose a gift for yourself that you  can afford.

3)         Wrap up your gift with newspaper or old/recycled wrapping paper.

4)        No labels are needed.

5)        When you arrive at the host’s home, discretely put your gift on the coffee table.

That Christmas, my family traveled from several cities to celebrate Christmas together.  Instead of carrying in baskets of wrapped gifts, each family member discretely brought in his one gift and put it on the coffee table.  After a delicious meal together, we gathered around the warm, crackling fire and the coffee table.  It was present time!  The oldest family member selected the first gift to open.  When the gift was opened, that family member had to guess to whom the gift belonged.  They were given three chances to guess correctly.  If the selection was correct, the family member who opened the gift then gave the family member who had purchased it their present.  If the person who opened the gift did not guess correctly after three attempts, the present was put off to the side until the end when it was revealed who had not received a gift.  It was hilarious to see what each person bought.

By focusing on our time together as a family we hadn’t wasted time in long lines.  There was no added stress in spending too much money. There was no guilt in keeping a gift you really didn’t want and there was no huge mountain of destroyed wrapping paper sent off to the landfill.

We all opened a gift that day, receiving exactly want we wanted, but m0re importantly we experienced Christmas in a new and more fulfilling way.

What’s one way you can simplify this holiday season and create a different kind of Christmas tradition?

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