December 13, 2018

Start a New Tradition: The Four Gifts of Christmas

Since we’re all so busy during this time of year, this week’s issue is going to be short and sweet.

A couple of years ago during the Christmas season, like most of you, I asked my children what gifts they wanted. As I put together their long lists of “must have” presents, I remembered feeling like “I wonder if they’ll even remember what I get them?”

Something in me was feeling this curiosity about my kids’ experiences and what they recalled getting from the previous Christmas. The only things they remembered were their fancy new phones but didn’t recall anything else. I didn’t feel anger or resentment that they hadn’t remembered the more special gifts, but I spent so much time and energy putting together thoughtful gifts for them, and it didn’t seem to mean that much to them.

I thought to myself, we are missing the boat with Christmas and what it means. I was searching for a more meaningful gift-giving approach, and it was then that I came across Glennon Doyle’s approach to gift giving.  Maybe you know her from her book, Love Warrior. She shared a poem that she and her kids were following when it came to gift-giving:

Something you want

Something you need

Something to wear

Something to read

I read that and immediately thought…YES! This is the answer to gift-giving. If you tell your kids they can choose one of each, they really take the time to put thought into their gifts and it gives them the decision-making power.

They focus on something they really, really want and something they need. For the ‘something to wear’, our tradition of fun Christmas PJs has turned into an annual event. We’ve made such great memories and my son has frequently mentioned the good times he remembers wearing the holiday jammies. And for the ‘something to read’ I’ve always thought that giving books as gifts is a great way to show how you are thinking about your loved ones: “I thought you might like this book as it reminded me of you.” And who doesn’t like a good page-turner?

This four gift approach took the pressure off of Christmas. I wasn’t focused on the volume of presents under the tree, but rather focused on thoughtful gifts that my kids would treasure. And in the end, we are creating lasting memories while actually spending LESS on Christmas.

I highly encourage you to try this four gift approach with your family this year. And maybe even start your own fun PJ tradition! But whatever your traditions are, I wish you peace and love for you and your family this holiday season.

Be well,

River Phoenix

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