The Gifts That Can’t Be Wrapped

The Gifts That Can’t Be Wrapped

This time of year means it’s impossible to go anywhere without being harrassed with Christmas music or blinded by “SALE” signs. It means that everywhere we go we’re being told to purchase anything and everything for our loved ones so that they’ll know how special they are to us.

Girlfriend? Buy her this diamond necklace. Your husband can’t possibly function without this giant TV for his mancave. What about your kids? They of course need the newest iPhone. And don’t forget to buy something for every other person you know just so they don’t think you care about them any less. Because we obviously don’t care about each other unless we’re giving gifts, right?

I don’t know about you, but as the years go by this holiday is causing me to become increasingly more jaded (pun absolutely intended).

I’m so tired of being told to spend my money on everyone I know. I’m so tired of feeling like the gifts I do purchase aren’t enough. I think my ears actually bleed listening to people talk about how much money they’ve spent on one person, and how it all sort of sounds like it’s this competition to out do one another.

Have we completely lost sight of what this holiday is about?

Of course now that I have my son I am thrilled to start our own traditions and help him experience the wonderful spirit of Christmas that I loved as a kid. But I loathe the idea of him becoming lost in the consumerism need for materialistic junk that doesn’t actually bring us any more joy in the end.

Christmas is about spirit. It’s about spending time with family. It’s about baking cookies and telling folklore to wide-eyed children who still believe in magic. It’s about good food, good wine, and of course it’s also about giving — giving time, giving thanks, and giving love.

I’m going to throw out there to anyone in my life who feels obligated to buy me any sort of gift: don’t. Please don’t. I don’t need it. If you’re to get me anything, please just give me your time. Your company. Your presence. Come over and spend time with my son. Give us a phone call or send us a card. I can promise you that in the end, what you bought for Christmas in 2019, isn’t going to matter on either of our death beds.

Maybe that’s harsh or blunt, but that’s kind of my point. Once it’s been used up or we’ve no longer found use for something, we move on. It gets thrown out, donated, or passed on to someone else. And while I know that hand-me-downs are the absolute greatest, I also know that memories are too. In 50 years when we’re lying on our death beds, are we going to be holding our iPads or newest brand name gear? No. We’ll be grasping at the memories we’ll wish so badly we could live one more time, outside of our minds.

I can tell you that in the first few Christmas following my parents’ divorce as a kid, I don’t remember a single gift I received. What do I remember, though? I remember my dad coming over early every Christmas morning to be with us, take pictures, and make sure he was a part of it all, like it always had been every year before. Thinking about it now I can still feel the joy, the gratitude, the love, and now the appreciation for my parents making sure that our Christmas was special beyond the gifts. What mattered those years wasn’t the gift I received, but rather the love. The time. The effort that went into making our day special.

Maybe I’m alone in this, maybe it’s because I live so far from my family and only see them a couple of times a year, but I just don’t see anything more important than the time we share together during this season.

I’m not saying don’t spoil your kids or the people you love every once in a while. If you have the means, do what you please. But consider this a friendly reminder to also celebrate the things we can’t physically see or hold. Celebrate the love you feel, the happiness you experience, the pride you have for your kids and the humans they’re becoming. Celebrate giving by teaching your littles to give back, and to treat others with kindness. Sing Christmas songs, bake cookies, and if you’re religious teach your children where this holiday is rooted. Definitely talk about Santa and his reindeer, leave milk out for him, and fill their stockings while they sleep at night. But don’t forget to also remind them that Christmas is more than that.

This is a friendly reminder that the amount of love you hold for the people in your life isn’t measured by the amount of money you spend on them. Remember that you, your presence, and your time are more valuable than anything you’ll find in a department store.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope your day is filled with your favourite people, your favourite food, and so much love.

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