Well, it’s over.
The tree has been recycled, (or it’s in the backyard rotting) the decorations are put away, and the Christmas music has been banned again until next year.
If you’re anything like our family, it feels like there’s this huge buildup to the Christmas season every year, and it starts earlier and earlier. Costco has their decorations out by Labor Day, right?
Then it’s here, and it’s over. All that buildup, all those stressful family dinners, all the dragging kids around town to see Santa, and it’s over.
And when it’s over, you need a new house to store all of the stuff your kids got. Every year, we fight a losing battle as the stuff begins to overtake the kid’s rooms.
We got sick of it.
So a few years back, we instituted a new policy in our house. One that our kids actually look forward to, and one that keeps their rooms from being absolutely buried in useless stuff.
Every year, after all the gifts have been opened, we sit down with the kids. We take an inventory of all the new stuff we got, we express our gratitude for it, and then we get to work.
For every gift we get, we go through our things and pick one thing to give away.
We recognize that we have more than we could ever need. We have more books, toys, clothes, and gadgets than any person would ever have any use for.
So if we ended up with ten new gifts for Christmas, we go through our things and find ten things that we can give away.
This is not, “Let’s find garbage that I didn’t want anyway.”
This is not, “Well, this sweater has a hole in it, so I’ll toss it.”
This is about recognizing that we are beyond blessed to live where we live and have the things that we have.
This is about recognizing that a huge number of people just went through the holidays without receiving anything.
This is about helping our kids, from a young age, fight the materialism that they’re faced with every single day.
Please don’t misunderstand this as “let’s make our kids feel bad about having stuff.” It’s not that at all. It’s okay to like stuff. We like stuff!
But we are trying to actively raise our kids to live with a default attitude of thankfulness, and that’s really difficult to do that if they’re focused on materialism.
This routine isn’t just limited to the kids, either. At the end of every year, my wife and I also go through the house and collect everything that we can live without. Maybe it’s clothing, books, or electronics.
Whatever it is, we recognize that it’s not that big of a deal, we can live without it, and that someone else probably needs it a whole lot more than we do.
So this year, would you join me?
Maybe you start slow. Set a goal. Say you’re going to have every person in the family pick five things. Or ten things.
Then research a local place where you can donate gently used goods. I like to avoid Goodwill, not because I have anything against Goodwill, but because I’d rather my items go to people who really need them, not just somebody bargain shopping (not that there’s anything wrong with bargain shopping!).
Then, as a family, deliver your donation. If our kids see us being generous, they’re far more likely to grow up to be generous themselves.
It’s super simple.
We have more than we need, so rather than hoard, we evaluate our needs and give away our excess.
Because at the end of the day, if you’re not giving, are you really living?