Presence Over Presents

Once our angel tree gifts were turned in a couple weeks ago, the only thing left under our Christmas tree were a few empty boxes that I covered in old calendar paper, just for decoration. There aren't any gifts waiting to be unwrapped. This is new for me...I usually go all out and spend much more money than I actually have...but I'm really excited to be spending the holidays a little different this year. 

My family and I decided quite a while ago that there's truly not a whole lot that any of us NEED and we all find ourselves buying-just-to-buy when it comes to Christmastime. Junk gifts. They're the reason we have so much to sell in yard sales each summer. It's a cycle of over-buying and under-appreciating. 

Not anymore. 

Christmas Presence > Christmas Presents

While I'll sure miss having a living room full of beautifully-wrapped presents to pass around the living room, here are some of the things we're focusing on instead:

- Using money in better ways. Instead of buying a friend or family member another candle, scarf, lotion bottle, etc. we can tip bigger at restaurants, give to more non-profits, donate items to worthy causes. 

- Saving money for life experiences. Buy those concert tickets, save up for a big ballgame, walk that 5K together, take a weekend trip to another state. Those experiences will be worth so much more than the money spent on them. No items can replace those moments. 

- Spending time with one another. Christmas without gifts?! WHAT WILL WE DO? Well, we'll spend it like we do all other holidays of the year: eating good food, playing old board games, watching home movies, catching up with one another's lives and laughing our way through good conversations. 

- Giving year-round. Not surprisingly, you can give someone a gift without having a calendar-specific reason to do so. I've see things throughout the year that are just SO meant for my sister. An item of clothing or a piece of home decor that would perfectly fit her. Now, I just give them whenever I see them. No pressure. No obligations. No waiting around for Christmas Eve. Just giving

I'm sure we'll open up some gifts this year. Though we've tried to convince her, you can't stop my mom from wrapping something up for her kids! And I know that having kids of our own someday will change the way we do Christmas too. Some of the magic of Christmas is just having those moments unwrapping gifts. I remember that magic. And while we'll probably do more gift-giving later on, may it never become the highlight of the season. 

In the meantime, I'm putting these practices into place so I can feel a new magic of Christmas for myself and those around me. 

Perhaps the most magical yet.