This is a repost from my personal blog…If you are happy with what you typically give to your families and close friends and how much you spend, great. But, if you don’t feel good when giving or if your house is cluttered with the past gifts you received but don’t cherish, I hope this might help you try something different this year.
I have been living here in the States for about 30 years and have tried to immerse myself in our society and culture. Yet, holiday gift giving is one of the things I have not accustomed to. It’s not likely because of the culture I grew up in. In fact, the gift giving custom is more prevalent in Japan. When I was in middle school, many decades ago, I remember going through boxes and boxes of unopened gifts my mother kept and wondering why they keep giving and receiving all the things they don’t even use.
Well, I had accepted the reasons for and benefits of gift giving a long time ago. I also did typical Christmas presents things when my children were small – wrapping many boxes after they went to sleep, putting them under the decked out trees, and placing cookies for Santa in front of the fireplace. When children still believed in Santa…it was lots of fun.
But, after they realized Santa was not real, I stopped. Magic was gone and there was no reason to pretend. So, the following year, I wrote several Christmas coupons on the cards, put them in envelopes, and hung them on the tree. I want to say I came up with that idea, but I most likely read about it in the paper or something. (This was right before the internet with dial tone came to our house.)
I thought coupons were clever, but they were not fun and quickly forgotten. I wanted to add something meaningful that would last longer and potentially impact their lives. So, I focused on going on trips with children; mini ones in spring and fall and big adventures in summer. We explored new places, got into some mishaps, and had blasts. They were not exclusively holiday gifts, but that did not bother much. We cherish those memories and still talk about them.
When children were in high school, I gave each a letter promising airplane tickets to and from anywhere in the world. The stipulation was they had to write why they wanted to go and what they wanted to do; and they had to convince me. After traveling together for years, I thought they were ready to take off on their own. Since then, they traveled far and wide, experienced many things they wanted to try, and went on their own adventures.
They are now grown. They know what they want and can get those themselves. I’m definitely grateful for that. It just makes it more challenging for me to come up with something that would give a lasting impact. My latest presents were the program that was designed to help them think and write about how they want to live their lives. I worked on it myself and it helped me a lot. Like those airplane tickets, it might take time before they embrace this one. But, when they decide and work on it, I sure hope it will help them make their lives better.