The Year We Stopped Giving Presents.


ID-100110755Last year almost $580 billion was spent last holiday season. That’s an enormous amount of money. And according to Nielsen people are already buying presents and it’s not even Thanksgiving. Stores aren’t waiting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to start selling and offering deals as there is one less week (three weeks) this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas to sell.

The Nielsen Holiday Spending Forecast reports 30 percent of consumers from all income ranges plan to drop between $250 and $500 this season while twenty percent say they’ll spend between $500 and $1,000, and only 6 percent will spend more than $1,000.

I’d love to do away with holiday gifts altogether. My children are spoiled. I admit it. And so would they. I’ve fallen into the trap so many parents fall into of wanting to make our children happy by giving them what they want–most of the time.

But I have this dream of telling them there will be no Santa and presents under the tree this year. How weird would that be? Imagine a Christmas tree without any presents under it? Instead we would take the money we would spend on each other and do something good with it. Or at the very least, we could set a spending a restriction and set aside the rest to truly put meaning into the season.

We could make something for each other. Imagine an old-fashioned Christmas. We could exchange hand written cards. I would love a card from each of my kids looking back on the year. It would be so much more meaningful.

We could work the local soup kitchen. My kids used to enjoy that as part of their community service requirements. I have a cookie press and we could easily bake hundreds of cookies and deliver them to a nursing home. Or give them to the local fire stations.

And imagine if we all gave to others instead–like the estimated 250,000 children who won’t receive anything this holiday.

But this will never happen. My kids have already given me my Christmas present.

Oh, some of the plan will. We will make cookies and hand them out to friends, neighbors, doormen and more. We are going to go buy presents for children and deliver them to a hospital. And we will have a Christmas tree and there will be a few presents as I am determined to set a budget this year and stick to it. This is something we will have to ease into as a family. I’ll plant the seed this holiday and get consensus for next year.

But they’ve already given me my present. And they were so proud of themselves. They actually talked to each other and pooled their money. They took advantage of Cyber Monday to get a deal and yesterday a brand new Dyson vacuum was waiting for me. My son said, “We love you, ma.” This was not just a present. It was a right of passage for them. You see they have grown up. They were so proud they had saved their money and had the means to buy a significant present. How could I keep them from achieving this milestone? I remember the first time I took my parents out to dinner and paid for it with my hard earned dollars. It was symbolic of saying to my parents, “Hey, look at me! I’ve grown up. Thank you for raising me right.”

Could your family handle the holidays without any presents?

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