Here in the USA we are in the middle of a day commonly known as Black Friday. A day when people wake up in the wee hours of the morning to be the first into stores to snag deals and buy gifts for all the people on their Christmas list.
Our family doesn’t really participate in Black Friday activities. Mainly because only my tween daughter likes to shop and none of us like crowds.
But there is another reason we don’t hit the mall on Black Friday. By and large we try to keep it pretty simple around our house. Not only on Black Friday but throughout the Christmas season.
Don’t get me wrong, our kids get gifts on Christmas and Santa still comes to visit them (even though they getting a bit wise to it all).
But we try hard not to let the gifts be the main thing.
There are a few different strategies we have used to help keep the consumerism down.
We put limits on the kids’ wish lists
I think it was Jen Hatmaker who shared the idea of limiting your kid’s wish list to four things. Something you want. Something you need. Something to wear. Something to read.
Whoever came up with this idea, I love, love, love it. It helps the kids focus in on a few things they want and prevents them from only asking for toys that will break or be forgotten in half a day. Surprisingly, our kids have taken to this really well. Maybe because they still get toys from their grandparents. Who needs Santa when you have good grandparents?
We don’t exchange gifts with adults in the family
A couple of years ago my sister-in-law and I read Advent Conspiracy and decided that we could forgo exchanging bought gifts among the adults. None of us really needed anything you can wrap anyway. Now we make charity donations in each other’s honor and give a personal gift. Often times the kids will give out their most recent picture and we’ll make a Christmas treat to share. Our parents have been pretty good sports about this even though they didn’t read the book. Most years they even return the Christmas tin or mason jar their goody came in so that we can reuse it when we make treats the next Christmas. Bonus!
Santa often brings family gifts.
When Santa visits our house, he often brings a large gift or a few smaller gifts that can be enjoyed by the whole family. One year Santa sent a Wii down the chimney. Other times his red bag holds board games. We’ll put a few special surprises in the kids stockings like earrings or their favorite trading cards. But our kids have learned that even Santa likes to keep it simple. This is a lot easier now that the kids are getting older. When they were little I just told my kids Santa had to send toys to all the kids of the world, so we could only ask him for so much.
Which leads me to my last tip. . . .
Acknowledging upfront that you can’t always get everything you want.
The Rolling Stones had it right all along. We are just not always going to get what we want in life and also at Christmas. I think my son has finally recovered from the year he begged Santa for a chinchilla only to receive a chinchilla stuffed animal (I mean come on those things are nocturnal and live for like 30 years!). There are a lot of things I would love to get under the tree, but most years it is new socks and a book.
Because Christmas is not about wish fulfillment. It is about being filled with light and love and the presence of the divine.
And that is a gift so great it has to come from Someone higher than Mom or Dad or even Santa.
But come it does and that is what we should truly celebrate.
So, Happy Black Friday however you mark it. If you’d like your Christmas to be more simple, allow yourself to find ways to take it down a notch or two. But however you celebrate may you be filled with the gifts of love and joy.
***For more ideas on keeping a meaningful Christmas, stay tuned for daily posts throughout December!