As each Christmas season approaches I am disheartened by the apparent focus on ‘stuff’, especially for my children. My letterbox becomes full of junk mail enticing me to buy all manner of things, and my television is loudly seeking my attention to notice products that will bring my family members happiness.
When you cast your mind back over your childhood Christmas gifts, what do you remember? Do you recall every toy, book or game you were given as a child? I would suggest that very few of us can identify more than a handful of gifts and that was in a simpler time than the consumer-driven society we exist in today. How can we combat this growing trend, and reduce the amount of stuff we are collecting in our homes? Here are a couple of ideas that might be worth considering this Christmas time.
Instead of gifting a ‘thing’, how about giving a memory? Give tickets to an event or an experience that allows an opportunity for deeper family connections. How about a zoo membership, tickets to a musical, a fun professional photo shoot, an outing to a tourist attraction, a meal at a special restaurant or some fun park tickets? Again, when I think back over my childhood it is those special moments that rate highly and not ‘stuff’.
At Christmas time there are plenty of opportunities to teach children about people who are less fortunate. A number of family friends have a clean-out of their toy boxes to make way for new toys that will be received. Donate these to a playgroup or op shop. When it’s time to shop, allow your children to choose a new toy to purchase and place under the gift trees located in department stores. Encourage generosity towards those who cannot repay with generosity.
There are also a many organisations that have an international support focus and it is the ideal time to sign up to sponsor a child and improve not only their life, but also those of their wider community. Or it could be that your family purchases ‘gifts’ for an underprivileged community such as a water well, a goat, a pig or a chicken. You can also support through the Salvos (visit salvos.org.au/international-development for more information).
In the book of wisdom in the Bible it tells me that “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11 verse 25) and I firmly believe that those who are the ‘richest’ in life do not necessarily have the most ‘stuff’.
This Christmas, instead of spending money on ‘stuff’ that needs to find a space to be stored in our already bulging homes, try to find a creative way to provide gifts that will live longer in our hearts and recollections. Give it a go.