I was in the fitness center and overheard a mom saying she was getting her 8 and 10 year old sons the newest and greatest iPhones. When her friend looked baffled asking why they would need such expensive phones the mom threw her hands up defensively and said, “What else can I get them- they have everything already” and then she muttered shamefully “It’s just easier to give them what they want.”

Lets face it the problem with Christmas isn’t the kids it’s often the parents and their inability to set standards for their families.

I slipped my giant snow boots off and laced up my tennis shoes trying my hardest not to butt in and thought about the honest place this mom was coming from. I know I will face this dilemma of buying what everyone else has when the pre-teen years arrive in our home.

My thought was that nice gifts are fine, they really can be easier, and I think they are okay as long as you are teaching your kids these 3 key lessons.

1. Teach gratitude not entitlement. Make sure your kids know just how blessed they are to have so much materially, relationally, and in general.

2. Teach that it’s better to give then receive. Have your kids buy gifts for others who are way less fortunate then themselves.

3. Teach them that community and togetherness is so much more valuable then expensive gifts.

Examples of gift free gifts could be ice skating passes, movie tickets, cooking classes. painting or pottery date, family game night, sledding & hot cocoa.

I did my workout that day and thought about what that women had shared in honesty and in the midst of the holiday season. I reminisced of the sorts of gifts I had gotten over the years, some very expensive, some very sentimental, some small and ordinary (gotta love the socks from mom) and many that I didn’t remember at all. I thought about how these boys would likely love this phone as much as the phone from the year before and it would not have much meaning if those three lessons above were never taught.

Very Merrily,

Ashleigh Harris