I’m not a mean Mom. But, my children have never written a letter to Santa, or made ANY type of Christmas list for that matter. They may make passing comments about items they hope Santa brings them, but those are few and far between, and several years they have said nothing at all about things they want for Christmas. We have never said out loud, ‘in our family we don’t make lists of things we want people, including Santa, to give us’, but we haven’t encouraged them to do it either. I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that it is ever appropriate to make an actual list of items we want, or even expect, other people to buy for us.
Now that I am more aware of the over consumption that is so prevalent, especially during the holidays, I am grateful that my husband and I did not start the tradition of ‘asking’ in our family. Some people may think I’m mean, or that we are robbing our children of a lot of the fun of the Christmas holiday, however, I prefer to think we are actually giving them a deeper appreciation of what Christmas is truly about.
Our family still shares gifts on Christmas day and Santa still visits and fills stockings, however, the items that are given are things that we have carefully selected based on our own knowledge of what family members like, need or want. We encourage giving gifts only if we have something in mind especially for that person, not if we happen to be walking down an aisle at the store and think the cherry cinnamon scented candle smells good and Aunt Marie might like it. Intentional gift giving takes planning, time spent with loved ones and paying close attention to what they value in life. It also makes for the most meaningful giving of gifts, and the most appreciated.
When we ask those we love to ‘make a list’ for us of items to buy as gifts, it’s taking the easy way out. We may think that in asking for a list, we will end up giving them items that they really want, instead of buying things they don’t need and will never use. This may be true, however giving gifts that are a symbol of our love, which is the essence of Christmas, should demonstrate the care and devotion we feel towards the individual. As we spend time with our loved ones, get to know their interests, favorite hobbies, foods and what their dreams are, we can easily create our own ‘list’ of things they would appreciate and use. How nice would it be to receive a gift from someone who remembered something you mentioned six months ago that would be useful! It shows that they care enough about you that they give attention to the little things you say and do on a regular basis.
By avoiding the tradition of writing Santa a letter with a wish list, or just straight up making a list for Mom and Dad of things to buy, we are teaching our children that gift giving comes from the heart, not from checking off items that someone says they want, just because it is a certain day of the year. We are teaching them to give time and attention to others to demonstrate their love, and as they do so, knowing what gifts they want to give will follow naturally, not just at Christmas, but all year.