As I was wrapping gifts for my daughter this year, I literally went into a panic. I was worried that I hadn’t gotten her enough. Granted, she only asked for two things which I purchased along with other items I knew she would like. The moment I stepped back from the tree and looked at how small her gift pile was, sadness came over me.
I’ve always been a bargain shopper, which was a plus this year since my businesses went through a bit of a dry spell and frankly, money was a little tight. I gave myself a budget of $100 and came in well under having spent about $75. So, why was this bothering me so much? I should’ve been excited about saving money and getting her wish list and more.
Christmas morning came and with excitement, she opened each gift. She squealed and laughed and loved it all (even the books, haha). When the gifts were all opened, which didn’t take long, she opened her new toys and just started to play. She didn’t ask if there was more for her. She didn’t even notice that her pile was so much smaller than it had ever been. All of my worry had been for nothing. But, why was I so bothered in the first place?
As I scrolled on social media later that night, every photo was the same. Living rooms full of endless amounts of toys and electronics and clothes. I even looked through my own FaceBook memories and saw that every year up until now looked just like those photos. Was my daughter any happier when she had more stuff? Is it what she really wanted or was I just trying to feed my own ego?
It wasn’t hard for me to come up with the answers to these questions. She was just as happy this year, maybe even a little bit more than in the past. This year was the first year she fully embraced all of the magical experiences of the holiday. Her elf. Decorating. Chocolates each morning from her advent calendar. Writing to Santa. Making reindeer food. Reading stories about Jesus. And probably her favorite part, having cupcakes to celebrate His birthday. I had been so consumed with comparing my situation to others, that I almost didn’t see the value in what she found thought was most important this year.
Now, I’m in no way condemning anyone for their choice to buy as much as they would like for their children. I’m fully aware that as she gets older, it’s going to get more expensive. But, for as long as I can and she will allow, I’m going to continue to embrace the magic and find joy in our experiences instead of things.