“Mommy, I want a toy kitty for Christmas.” “Mommy, tell Santa I want a remote control monster truck for Christmas.” How many of you have heard these statements from kids around Christmas? My son “only” wants a toy kitty (even though we have a real one) and a remote control monster truck (even though he has several different versions).

Personally, I’m sick of him getting toys – for Christmas, for birthdays, just because. We have more toys than one little boy could EVER need. And yet, he wants the newest and best, shiny toys. Well, he wants any toys really. They don’t have to be new as long as they are new to him. He also has no trouble giving away toys to those less fortunate, usually as a negotiation for a new toy.

Any my little boy isn’t the only one suffering from the “I wants.” In this commercialized version of Christmas we are leaning towards, we are also creating monsters in ourselves and others. How many deaths were a direct result of Black Friday this year. Anyone? http://www.blackfridaydeathcount.com/ reports 7 deaths & 90 injuries. I watched Youtube fights in Walmart over packages of paper. PAPER.

This year, I read an article in the Huffington Post by Christella Morris – The gift of not giving a thing. I was so inspired; I vowed not to buy “any more” presents. I have committed to providing “presence” this year instead of “presents.” So, how am I going to do this? Great question!

#1 – If we must buy presents, limit the price. We have a $40 limit. So where a gift will cost more, that person has to find > 1 person to pitch in. Or better yet, shop AFTER Christmas and get all the deals. Everything goes on sale after Christmas. Even turkeys. And who is to say that Christmas dinner has to be on Christmas? It’s the spirit and intention that matters. We are having a winter equinox supper on Dec 21 and Christmas supper on Jan 5.

#2 – Make presents – we like to give presents. Why not dedicate the 12 months between Christmases to make something? Next year, I’m making presents. Any hobby can be taken up to make a present – baking, needlepoint, wood working, post carding, etc.

#3 – Make ornaments – this year, we are not putting up commercial ornaments. We are only putting up ornaments on the tree that are homemade – my daughter made a lot when she was younger and I kept them. Last year, we made popcorn strings (and found out the history behind them). This year, we painted little wooden ornaments we bought at Canadian Tire.

#4 – Spend time with children. Like the author of this article, what if having time with their family was key – no matter what they were doing? Going to Christmas events – like the Royal Canadian Air Force Concert last night, Lights Across Canada tomorrow night, CEP Annual Kids Christmas Party on Sunday – or even volunteering to sing carols at a couple senior’s homes on Christmas Day or taking a shift at the Food bank. The opportunities are endless. And they don’t just have to be at Christmas time. Plenty of worthwhile organizations look for volunteers all year round – SaskTel Pioneers, Bright Eyes Dog Rescue, Heritage Community Association – to name a few.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of material things, we gave our children our presence? This is something I think everyone can give. Instead of a new toy, buy (or make) a certificate redeemable for a day at the zoo or the Science Center? Learn something new – like painting pottery or dancing. Take them to that new movie they want to see or the local play place – even if it is at McDonald’s?

P R E S E N C E not P R E S E N T S…what a concept!