What if one of the greatest gifts you could give your child is the gift of minimalism?
With the holiday season being right around the corner and lots of opportunities to buy your children piles of gifts, what if we stopped for a moment and thought about giving the gift of minimalism instead of materialism?
This really dawned on me when I took Andrew to his first birthday party from a friend in his class. Andrew and a couple of his little friends sat “crissed cross applesauce” in the front row to watch their friend open a pile of gifts. The birthday boy opened his first present, took a 5 second look at his new batman towel and two new Hot Wheel cars, and proceeded onto the next gift.
All he wanted to do was go from gift to gift to gift.. to gift. The first gift he opened probably did not even exist in his mind when he finished opening his last.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing, because who doesn’t want to open up a pile of presents?
And trust me, I’m guilty of doing this for Andrew as well. It’s hard not to spoil our children by loading them up with gifts and watching them squeal happily as they are ripping open presents.
But I had a moment to view this whole scenario from the outside looking in and it made me wonder — is this subconsciously teaching our children to lack appreciation and value for gifts or things in general?
I mean, our children have so much already.
What does a pile of gifts teach?
What if a child only had three gifts to open? Wouldn’t the child appreciate his three gifts much more than a pile of gifts? Of course any child would prefer a pile of gifts, but what about the long term effect?
It seems like the whole notion of “wanting more” is beginning at such a young age and unfortunately is often carried on through our adult lives. Wanting more leaves most people with feelings of dissatisfaction and yearning for something much more than any material item can offer. When does “more” stop?
With the way our world is now (“more and new” mentality), I often think about how I will teach Andrew to understand the importance of value, how money doesn’t grow on trees, and that we don’t need “things” to be happy. How will I teach him to be content with what he has and not fall into the trap of always wanting the “latest and greatest?” How do I raise him so he has the will power to not succumb to his peers, their needs of always wanting more, and following in their paths?
I want my child to grow up and appreciate life and it’s natural beauties, have respect for everything around him, be strong enough to make his own decisions and USE his brain to do so, and to value what he has.
For this reason, Scott and I have decided to approach our holiday season with a minimalist approach by giving one gift that we need, one gift that we want, and a gift to read. I’m going to focus more on giving homemade gifts rather than store-bought and include Andrew in the process of making them. Lastly, I am going to brainstorm ways to make Christmas morning much more than just opening presents and create a much more meaningful tradition.
Truly, the greatest things in life cannot be bought, so why not teach our children this at a young age? Why not give the gift of minimalism which will ultimately provide confidence and fulfillment in our children’s lives so they don’t feel the need to succumb to the “I need more” mentality.
They will be free in more ways than we know!
What are your thoughts about mountains of gifts? Am I looking too deep into it?