Four years ago, my husband Russell and I decided to walk away from Christmas. It was overwhelming our time, finances, and peace of mind. We would emerge from the season less jolly and in debt. Buying people presents to say “I love you” or “I appreciate you” was leaving us feeling empty after the season was over.
The one thing that Russell and I did love about the holiday season is the quality time with our family; which we treasured. We enjoyed the $5 white elephant gift exchange, the great food, the laughter and jokes, and the love that abounds at my gift-mother’s Christmas Eve party. That was the magic of Christmas for us.
We decided the best way to recreate that feeling was to forgo the customary Christmas presents. We decided that our “gift” would be a weekend together with our family in the summertime. This way, we could experience the joy that we found in spending time with them.
The money we now spent on Christmas would be used to create more joy.
These years, during our annual Christmas Eve gift exchange, Russell and I surprise everyone with the location of our family trip. We love handing out the envelopes to everyone and watching as they tear into them to find out our next location. We also get a kick out of the phone calls we receive throughout the year with casual suggestions of new locales. We have taken our family to Laguna Beach, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Las Vegas.
The memories that we are creating are priceless. Our incredibly blended family enjoys this weekend of relaxation, poolside fun, and memories. We have grown with the addition of new babies and family members. Even cherished friends have joined our gathering.
We continue to feel blessed by our decision to approach Christmas different.
Life changes in a moment. I have family photos filled with people who are no longer here. The memories we create with each other outlast any tangible gift. When I look back on my life, for the most part, I don’t remember the things I received.
I remember the hugs, laughs, and love I experienced being around my family and friends. Russell and I want to create a long-lasting and tangible demonstration of how love can feel. Memories accomplish that goal.We are glad that we abandoned Christmas.
We are richer because of it.