Now that the holidays are fast approaching I’ve recently started thinking about the new traditions our family would like to start and the perfect gifts to get Tayler for her very first Christmas. How much will we travel? When will we be sure to spend time with just our family at home? What Christmas Eve tradition should we take on? How many gifts should we get Tayler? Not only Christmas, but a few months from now we’ll be celebrating Tayler’s first birthday. (Where does the time go?!). How many people could we accommodate here? Do I want a certain theme? What kind of cake? How many presents? How much should I budget to spend?
After giving it all some thought, I found myself filled with anxiety and uneasiness. Sad, huh? I found myself feeling pressure to put on some big, elaborate show. For who I’m not sure, but my feeling nonetheless. This pressure I was feeling to put on a picture perfect Christmas and first birthday was taking away from what my real focus should have been on – celebrating milestones and traditions with the people we love most. Instead I was thinking about what her big gift should be, what kind of party favors would be appropriate, and where on Etsy I can find chic but kid-friendly decor. Before Facebook and Pinterest I know the whole “keeping up with the Joneses” ideal existed, but now in a time when everything is shared for everyone to see, it sure does feel amplified.
What was the purpose of all these gifts? How are all these things and theatrics going to play into the growth and development of my daughter? What was the message and feelings I want her to take away from future holidays and birthdays? What are we really celebrating here?
I don’t have all the answers yet, and I’m sure my thoughts will evolve as she grows up and I get a bigger dose of reality as a parent, but I do know a few things right now. I know that consumerism is rampant and out of control, and I want to try my best to not feel obligated to play into it. I know I want Tayler to appreciate what she has, and not feel entitled to a giant mound of gifts every time a holiday or birthday rolls around. I know I want her to look forward to the love she feels through the people that celebrate birthdays with her. I know I want her to feel joy from a few select gifts that have significant thought and meaning, not numerous gifts that mean nothing. I know I want her to feel humbled by how blessed we are when we take some of her old toys to children who need them more than we do. I know I want her to find stimulation and creativity through giving the same toys new meaning, as opposed to needing new toys all the time to keep her attention. I know I don’t want to stretch our budget just to fulfill some idea of what Pinterest tells me a birthday party should look like, when some of that money could be going into her college fund. I know I want to create memories that are filled with laughter, love, friends, and family – that’s what she’ll remember.
I want to celebrate the moment, not the stuff. I want to celebrate all of the joy she brought to so many lives during her first year, and the simple fact that we are fortunate enough to celebrate a first birthday with her. I want to celebrate that special time at the end of every year where our family gets to stay in our pajamas all day, watch Christmas movies while snuggling on the couch, and share drinks, food, and laughter with those that fill our hearts.
I need to let that pressure roll off my shoulders just as quickly as I let fall there. She will surely know how much we love her, and it will be through the time we spend together celebrating the moment.
Simplify. Appreciate. And be grateful.