December has arrived and with it the excitement and magic of the season. What has also arrived is the commercialism and materialism we’ve come to associate with the holidays. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year – filled with giving, generosity and time spent with loved ones. However, for many of us, the holiday season has become a stress-inducing, frantic, consumption-driven whirlwind of a month…all wrapped up in a pretty bow.
Instead of days spent together, days are spent shopping. Rather than a focus on giving, the focus is on buying, spending, and bargain hunting. In fact, instead of feeling gratitude, we may find ourselves simply trying to survive the season.
I totally get it! It’s so easy to get caught up in it all; to find ourselves so busy getting everything done, bought and company-ready, that we deprive ourselves (and our little ones) of the joy of the season. What if the holidays don’t have to be this way? What if we reject the ‘Christmas’ marketed to us in favour of a slower, more intentional holiday rooted in our values and relationships?
Perhaps it is more important at this time of year than at any other to protect family time and to focus on experiences together over things. But how do we do this during a season notorious for over-spending, over-committing and over-extending?
For us, it begins with the countdown to Christmas. Kids love advent calendars! Heck, I love them too. I mean isn’t the excitement and anticipation leading up to the big day really the best part of the holidays? While there are all sorts of amazing ready-made advent calendars out there, we prefer a different kind of calendar – one that focuses on connecting with each other instead of collecting more things.
In our DIY advent calendar, the kids discover a new experience that we can enjoy together each day. Maybe it’s baking cookies, making an ornament or simply rocking out to some holiday music! The experiences are varied but the objective remains the same – the ‘gift’ of time together.
Most often when I share this, I’m met with “That sounds wonderful but I don’t have time for that.” I get it; some days I definitely find it a challenge to fit it in (I save the activities that don’t require much time for those days). But experiences together don’t have to take a lot of time, and I often incorporate things we like to do or have to do at this time of the year anyway (i.e. Christmas cards, teacher and sibling gifts, a treat for a neighbour, etc.).
I’m not gonna lie, I get tempted by some of the ready-to-buy advent calendars out there (I mean, have you seen that Lego one!). But the truth is our calendar tradition is probably my favourite of all the things we do over the holidays…and it has become one of my kids’ favourites as well.
Of course, gifts of experiences don’t have to be part of an advent calendar. Go ahead and create your own holiday traditions around making memories instead of collecting things. After all, what our children need and desire most from us isn’t something that can be found under a tree – it’s the gift of time together….
Hi! I’m Amy Kervin, and I was born and raised in Miramichi, New Brunswick. I am a mama of two, an educator with a BEd from Saint Thomas University, and an advocate for children and the parents who love them. I have experienced what it’s like to be a parent who teaches full-time, stays at home with my children and most recently, works from home – and I can’t decide which is most challenging! I know the way we parent matters, and I have recently channeled that passion into my own website and blog, Love Uncluttered. I strive to live simply, parent gently and connect deeply with my children. I don’t enjoy every moment of parenting, but I find moments of joy in every day. And even on the days it’s really hard, I wouldn’t give this parenting gig up for the world.
Likes: coffee, wine…more wine, yoga, and all things design.
Dislikes: sexism, beige, clutter.