Holiday Survival Guide: Precious Gifts

I’m a planner. I can’t get around it. I’ve scheduled some time to work on this practice of mine so it can cause less problems, but that part of my plan is assigned to the Tuesday of the second week in February. So, this part of me may still be difficult for a few months.

My family celebrates many holidays, including Christmas. To plan well, in the last few weeks of October, I invite my kids to start thinking about their Christmas wish list. My extended family celebrates Christmas in a lot of ways. One of these ways is by different family members drawing names of other family members (aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents). We then spend the next few weeks sneakily trying to find out what the person whose name we’ve drawn wants as a gift. So, to share my kids’ requests, I start asking about what they’d like.

Gift exchanges can be a fun part of the holiday season, if we don’t give in too much to the materialism to which this fosters. We keep the spirit of gift-giving in our minds and hearts and try to highlight the intrinsic values that come with the external gifts and how it all makes us feel.

My oldest daughter has the biggest heart of any teenager I’ve ever known. She is thinking of others before herself almost constantly. This year, somewhat like last year, she has been a little hesitant in pulling together a wish list for gifts she would like to receive. This isn’t a problem for anyone, unless you’re a planner and want to get ahead and anticipate when you’ll be asked for gift ideas. And it isn’t a problem at all, unless I let it be.

During an enjoyable, relaxed conversation in the car on our way home one evening, I asked about any updates to her list-making. She said she didn’t have any updates, other than that she still would like some gift cards or money to use for buying clothes (She is a new teenager, after all! Oh, and I’ve realized that buying clothes for a teenage daughter is not one of my current strengths, but I’m working on it!)

Then. Her follow-up broke my heart in all the right ways.

“I might just want fabric, or money to buy fabric…a lot of fabric.”

Pause, and quiet…

“I want to make blankets for people. People who don’t have a way to stay warm.”

And, again, I was stunned by something one of my incredible kids said or did. This conversation has stuck with me. I want to come back to it with her and mention how it reminds me of the many reasons I love her and of how proud I am of the young person she is and the amazing person she will remain.

So, I’m going to invite you to do better than I and somewhere along the lines of how well I’d like to do at keeping the spirit of winter holidays at heart and in focus.

Make the routine and traditional activities healthy, fun, and opportunities to connect. Walk together. Do something for others. Play.

If you celebrate Kwanzaa, Saint Nicholas Day, Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucia Day, Hanukkah, or Christmas, I invite you to be aware, sacrifice, give, receive, feel valued, think deeply, love, love, and love.

If you don’t celebrate any of these winter holidays, or if you celebrate others I’ve missed, I still invite you to take care of you and take care of others. As much as you can, take advantage of the time we have together and possibly the increased chance to see each other and show love.

It is precious and valuable.

You are precious and valuable.

Whether you make a plan about it, or not (I recommend NOT…just live it.), it makes a difference, and may be the best gift you give or receive this season.

Thank you for welcoming me into your space this holiday season.

Chad Childs, MSFT, LCMFT