All my life Christmas has been commercialized. It’s about buying gifts for others, making lists, and receiving gifts. Yes there is spending some time with family, having a big meal together, but it never really felt like the family aspects were the most important. This has weighed on my mind for years because I feel as a society we have lost a lot of core family values and have replaced them with monetary values. Working longer hours, sacrificing time with your family, so you can buy a bigger house and acquire more stuff. Giving the kids gifts or money to show them you care instead of just taking the time to be with them and doing what THEY find fun. Bringing a gift to your spouse because you feel guilty you have barely spent time together the last week due to a big company project. Financial stress from your job spilling over at home creating more stress. One of the most common cause for divorce is cheating and drifting apart over time, usually because one or both were more focused on making money. Instead of giving time to the needy, people find it easier to just give money.
Have you seen the theme yet? It all revolves around economic matters. Whether it be chasing the money, using the money to replace your affection, stress from money, and so on, it has caused us to lose something special and irreplaceable… old fashioned family values. Let’s be clear, I m not talking about gay marriage or anything like that. It doesn’t matter who you chose to love or who you feel is family in your heart. For some people their friends are more family to them then their real family. I am talking about spending time with your family, participating in their lives, engaging them in thoughtful conversation, physically and mentally being there for them, really knowing your kids, creating a home that feels like a safe haven from the world, really connecting with your partner on a daily basis, the family working together as a team to overcome situations, giving them your time and your presence.
I have suffered a lot of loss this year which lead Michel and I to re-evaluate how we were living life. That led us to changing many things to become closer as a family and bring back those values we want the triplets to grow up in and learn. There are things we have given up, there are things we are still working on, but we are getting there and are happier for it.
Which brings us back to Christmas. I didn’t want to do gifts this year. I wanted to focus more on the family aspects of the holiday and not on the commercial side. The family gathering, talking, sharing stories, playing, a big family meal, and just being together. I want the kids to see this time of year more as giving your time, the most precious thing you can give, and not associated with money. When they are a little older do some type of volunteer work during this time of year and doing homemade gifts. These are the lesson I want my children to learn. These are the values I want them growing up with because I think it will make them better people.
The one problem… getting everyone else to follow suit. Micheal agrees with me and wants to do it but his family (who we spend the holidays with) just doesn’t get it. I know they grew up in a different time and that buying tons of stuff for the grandchildren makes them feel good. I don’t want to make them unhappy or ruin their ideas of the holiday. On the same note though, I really want to do it our way. Not celebrating with them also defeats the whole purpose of spending time with family, so that won’t be happening. I have tried to talk to my Mother-in-Law but I don’t think she really understands. I got the impression she felt like I was just trying to make her feel better since money has gotten tight this year, although it had nothing to do with it.
I am not opposed to gift giving in general, we get the kids stuff they need and would enjoy all throughout the year, I just don’t want Christmas to become all about gifts for them. I want it to be all about family. So the question remains… How do we instill in them those values, when the whole family is not on board? It’s not like we can force them to do it our way. That’s not fair to them. It’s not like I can ignore what I want for us. That’s not fair for our family unit.
For those of you who thought I had the answer to this quandary, sadly I do not. It is something I will have to continue to think about and hopefully I will be blessed with a solution.
I did however want to share our thoughts on this matter and perhaps even get others to think about this type of stuff. Perhaps you have already felt this way but did not know how to proceed. Hopefully this has given some of you some ideas of what changes you would like to see in your own family unit, not just for the holidays but for life in general.
Happy Holidays to everyone out there. Many you make some wonderful memories and the ability to share those with others!