Every year after the whole Christmas debacle is done and dusted and we have made it through the shopping madness that is the buying back-to-school-shoes, I sit down with a sigh of relief. There is space and quiet. A break from the crazy rushing and buying marathon that seems to consume us all each year.
Christmas madness settles and then comes birthdays
Each of my four daughters settle into their everyday rhythm, and I am able to take a moment to think about what is next. What events do I need to prepare for, what important dates do we as a family have coming up and with the first of six birthdays not far off – what the hell am I going to buy everyone this year?
They have more stuff than they need
I often try and think about birthdays and gifts a lot in advance so that I am not caught out with, well … life. However, my daughters live a pretty privileged life. Although they love getting gifts, I’m not sure that they really need anything else. They’ve never really had to go without, and even though I have been making a concerted effort to downsize their “stuff” levels over the last few years, they’ve got more things than they really can even use.
This year will be different
So this year I am doing something differently: our family is going to have a gift-free year. It’s not because I have finally morphed into a full version of the birthday grinch, and it isn’t even because I hate birthdays – it’s just because I want a break from the consumerist pull. I have totally had enough of buying things for the sake of it.
We’re having a gift-free year
There will be no gifts this year. No purchasing of any presents, at all. Nope, none. Zilch.
That’s not to say that I am going to forbid family or friends from buying them gifts, but this year our immediate family is going to focus on things aside from receiving presents.
What we can do instead
So what are we going to do instead? How am I going to celebrate their birthdays and give them something to look forward to and be excited about?
Well, I’m going to dedicate this year to building on our connections as a family and sharing memorable experiences with them instead. I’ve noticed that material gifts are often forgotten by my girls within a few weeks of receiving them, and there are plenty of other ways to spend money on moments and experiences that will be cherished far longer than the latest must-have plastic toy.
No more buying of all the things!
I am going to consciously take a step back from the pull of society that tries to convince me to *buy all the things* for my children because they are “cool” or the latest gadget that “everyone else has”, and instead I am going to focus on what is really important. Things like connection. Things like meaningful relationships. Things like experiences.
I’ve realised that most of the time, what my children (and husband, actually) want more than anything else is simply quality time with me. Time where they don’t have to compete for my attention from other family members, time where they can feel a little indulged, special and get all the cuddles and attention that their souls desire.
Lessons I want my girls to understand
Surely, that beats the heck out of yet another present anyway. I am also hoping that through this gift-free exercise, I’ll teach my girls a little something along the way – like what really matters in life doesn’t actually come wrapped in paper.
Some things money just can’t buy.