Take a moment. Step back from the social perceptions of Christmas and the pressure to buy excessive amounts of Christmas related products. Think about the last five christmases you’ve spent with family and friends. What are your fondest memories?
I have strong, fond memories about Christmas; but non of them revolve about the things I was gifted. Yes, there were always presents under the tree; my parents worked incredibly hard to ensure that this happened. As I’ve gotten older, I realised that as a turned away from an obsession with belongings; the value I had in Christmas was the time I spent with my parents and siblings. Christmas has changed over the years as my parents businesses have taken off. There where many years before my sisters were born where one or both of my parents had to work on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day. For us Christmas morning was always sacred. The early wake up call didn’t matter to my parents as it meant we had the chance to spend the morning together. When my parents started their restaurant, Christmas morning was our own, before our space was taken over by other people celebrating Christmas. Though we spent more time worrying if there Christmas was more relaxed then our Christmas, it didn’t matter because it meant we were together, and it was something I don’t take for granted.
When I was younger I think I was too taken in by the amount of presents, that sometimes I didn’t see the value of spending time with my family. Now, where my parents spend more time at home over the Christmas period and now that I don’t see them as much as I used to. Also, now that I see how much more my sibling see my parents then I ever did at my age, I’ve come to realise that some of my fondest moments were simply family being together. The memories of Christmas in our restaurant weren’t cherished because they were in a beautiful setting, but cherished that we all got to spend the whole day together, even though my parents had to work. And it was okay that I spent a lot of my afternoon serving other people Christmas dinner, because I was doing it with some of the most important people in my life.
A few years ago we went on a family vacation to Lapland. Whilst it was more aimed at my siblings and they thrived off meeting Santa. There were many experiences that we went through as a family that I hold as a cherished memory. Because it was the longest time we had spent together over the winter period then ever before. We have some great memories, great pictures and it really cemented a family bond. This family holiday was really a turning point for me in realising that the presents, though I loved them and am extremely grateful for the gifts I received, weren’t what I was remembering six months down the line. So now I am determined to make the most of that week I will be at home this year by spending as much time with my siblings and friends as possible.
If you’re thinking about what to get people for Christmas you should think about experiences and memories. The greatest gift you can give to people, especially where we are all so busy, is your time. My siblings most favourite gift last year was their family trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, they talk about it a lot and they really enjoyed every moment of it.
I could tell you that I love the Christmas Eve drinks I went out on last year with friends from Secondary school. Something we all loved so much, that we are repeating this year. I remember Christmas breakfasts with the family, because we were all happy together. Watching NORAD track Santa with my sisters who are so excited for Santa’s arrival. Minimalism is about valuing the experiences and the memories you can make over the things that you can purchase. The more I’ve thought about it writing this post the more I see the value of those memories over the things I have. The things you get break, or get old and you replace them. But those simple memories stay with you, and are more valuable than some of the most expensive things you could give. Theres often more meaning behind them too.
This Christmas, instead of buying your family and friends gifts, gift them your time. Take them somewhere, spend more time with them over the year. Realise that stuff is not what you take away from Christmas, but the memories and traditions stay with you for a long time. Go for Christmas eve drinks with friends and family, give siblings a book to read on Christmas eve (this is an amazing Christmas tradition – read about it in this post!) Or watch NORAD track Santa with the children you celebrate around. Minimalism is about valuing the experiences and the memories you can make over the things that you can purchase. The more I’ve thought about it writing this post the more I see the value of those memories over the things I have. The things you get break, or get old and you replace them. But those simple memories stay with you, and are more valuable than some of the most expensive things you could give. Theres often more meaning behind them too, and they are probably the thing you will remember most in ten years time.
Be minimalist this Christmas, give memories.