Be Present Before Buying Presents

I’ve been reflecting A LOT over the last few months and weeks. I’ve become more conscious of how my lifestyle impacts on many elements around me. I’ve become more aware of where I sit in this weird world of waste and want. Having lived in three different houses since last Christmas I understand that a house is not a home. A home is the people you come back to after a long day at work. I’ve learned that becoming a parent can focus the mind on what’s important in life unlike anything else. I’ve noted that you can’t be all things to all people at all times, although sometimes I still try to be. I’ve struggled to be a gentle parent and partner at times this year but I am determined to be better.

Then there’s Christmas. Where does Christmas fall into all of this loveliness? Well for a start we aren’t religious at all. But Christmas seems to be that one free pass that even the staunchest of atheists get in terms of the direction of their moral compass. Christmas is all consuming. It’s contagious and it draws you in on it’s delicate, sparkly string. It gives you a flirtatious little wink as it triumphantly announces “I’ve got you now!” And you let it, why? Because Christmas is a magical time of year.

Toby unimpressed for the 2nd year running

But Christmas is also a bit mad isn’t it? And people, who ordinarily live regular lives, go a bit bat shit crazy at Christmas don’t they? I used to be one of them. Presents for everyone. Even presents without labels on them for the people that might call and need a present. We all know someone who does that, that was me. Generic 3 for 2 gifts that hold little meaning or thought, wrapped in delicious bows that will be discarded in seconds but took hours to make.

Toby with his current stuff. Lots has been sent to the attic today.

Stuff. Stuff everywhere for everyone. Who wants more stuff? Oh, oh, I do! I do! Who doesn’t love stuff? Last year people scoffed when we had nothing under the tree for our four month old bar some bibs that he didn’t know he desperately needed. The four month old is now a year and four months old and still hasn’t an iota what’s going on. That same child has stuff. Lots of stuff. He will get some lovely new things this year but they will mainly be gifted from others and we have guided those people to what he needs.

A couple of weeks ago I came across this photo and I shared it on my social media. This sums it up for me. This Christmas spend time with the people who mean the most to you. Instead of a present go for a coffee or gather together and plan a trip to the zoo, meet for a drink or knock in for a cup of tea. Do a family Kris Kindle for the grown ups but limit it to a tenner. Print some photos of you and them together and make a little album for the person. Spend some time with a neighbour you don’t visit enough or do a Christmas Day swim for a charity close to your heart. Bring your kids to a carol service for people in need or let them help you put blankets and hats and scarves together for the homeless. Buy a deck of cards and teach your teenagers how to play poker for quality streets! These are the things that we don’t do enough yet these are the moments that will mean the most and will create the best memories.

I told my loved ones this year that we were standing firm and big presents just weren’t happening for everyone, not to expect anything bar our presence, attention and love. To my amazement everyone was in agreement. Everyone actually seemed relieved! So bar gifts for the kids and a couple of Kris Kindles the pressure of stuff is off us this year. And it feels so good, I couldn’t recommend it enough.

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