Kids Who Are Gift-less are Gifted

Zen Habits

Hailing from Guam it's a pleasure to introduce Leo Babauta, who will be providing the Chelsey community with inspiration and tactics on setting and achieving your goals each and every week, check out his blog Zen Habits

When I wrote about my family doing the No New Gifts Holiday Challenge, I received a couple comments that I was a Grinch:

You must be a drag to live with. ‘What kind of deprivation and sacrifice has Daddy got for us today?’

and

I couldn’t agree more lol, I’m sure kids see him as the Grinch, i feel sorry for them. I doubt his kids would be like ‘Yes dad, don’t buy me the latest Call of Duty game, i don’t want the 1% to get richer.’

While I was touched by the concern for my kids, I am not worried:

    lone kid (8 of 8)
  • My kids have plenty of video games and electronics (including the latest COD game). They earn money and buy them themselves, and learn that if they want something, they can earn it, and it’s not handed to them.
  • My kids have everything they need and much more. If anything, they have too much, but I try not to force my minimalist philosophy on them.
  • Instead of deprivation, my kids are learning that there is much more to Christmas than getting a bunch of presents. (More below.)
  • They are learning to be creative instead of consuming. This lesson is more necessary today than ever.
  • We are learning that spending time with family is more important than spending money or spending time shopping.
  • Together we are creating new traditions based on creativity, fun, and giving, not just buying.
  • We are thinking of ways to give that don’t necessarily involve shopping — making gifts, volunteering, donating to charity, etc.

The reaction of my kids when I talked to them (once again) about not buying presents? They completely understood my anti-consumerism reasoning, and they were excited to come up with new ideas. Honestly. I was really proud of them when I sat down with them (individually and in groups) and talked about these ideas — they didn’t look disappointed at all, they in fact happily thought of some cool things we could do together.

Some ideas they’re excited about doing this Christmas instead of buying new gifts:

  1. Making our own gifts. My son Seth is really, really excited about making stuff. In fact, he wants to make something for himself and wrap it up to open on Christmas morning. Yes, he’s a bit weird, but I love that. Eva wants to sew gifts for people.
  2. Baking gifts. We love baking, and it’s a fun activity to do together. And we can give cookies, cupcakes, brownies as gifts to family, make them fatter, but not clutter their homes with needless possessions.
  3. Going to play in snow. We’re from Guam, so snow is a novelty for us. My kids know it from Christmas movies and the like, but it’s not a yearly tradition for us — so driving to play in snow is really fun. We love making snow people, snow forts, snow angels, and having snowball fights.
  4. Volunteering. We’re not sure where we want to volunteer this year (in past years we’ve done soup kitchens and Salvation Army bell ringing), but we do like the idea of giving.
  5. Christmas caroling. We aren’t good singers, but we love singing Christmas songs.
  6. Playing games. We love, love board games and other such games. We love getting together with family and playing games and sports. Having fun with family doesn’t have to involve gifts.
  7. Make decorations. It’s so much fun to put up festive decorations, and if you can make them yourselves, even better.

And this is just the start of the ideas we’ve come up with. Sure, buying gifts is a holiday tradition — but is it the only possible tradition? Can’t we create new ones?

My kids are not deprived. In fact, I think our family is very lucky, and I hope to show others that creativity, fun, giving, and family bonding are amazing things that you can do without being a participant in the usual consumerism.

 
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  • Wice says
    I beleive that the older you get the more you come to realise quite naturally that there is not much that you need or want but it is the fact someone has made an effort on your behalf that counts.

    To be absolutely honest, I now get far more pleasure from giving than receiving. For a child, whether it is something they make themself, or that they have saved up for and spent their valuable pocket money on, the feeling is the same. They do it to make else someone happy and either way it has involved them giving up something themselves.

    I don't think a gift is necessarily better if this has no monetary value. If anything it is harder for a child to give something worth money rather than something they made.

    Also, children are little for such a very, very short time. When you see the genuine pleasure that they can get from receiving a present they want but have not way of buying themselves (such a rare thing for an adult), it makes this act something very special. Time enough for them to learn about the negative sides of gift buying. Once those few years are gone, they never have that opportunity to feel Christmas - the sheer excitement of wonderous expectation, - ever again.

    Let them make presents for people’s birthdays. Let them help out and volunteer all year around… but let them have Christmas for the few years when it is still something magical!
  • Laura_actually says
    What a brilliant post. You get great things if you give them, I think. Let your children learn about sharing, and not to be spoilt.
  • New Member says
    I think this post give a best knowledge for children They do it to fulfill else somebody and whichever way it has included them Order An Assignment, surrendering something themselves.

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