Moe (my lovely bride of 36 years) and I succumbed to the commercial Christmas monster for many years while raising our two daughters. About the time the girls got to high school, Moe proposed altering the way we celebrated Christmas.
First, we scheduled a day to spend completely away from the usual work and school responsibilities.
Each girl could bring ONE guest to the outing (it was usually a boy friend – we eventually ended up with two of those characters in the family). We would start the big day with a hearty breakfast, then load up in the car and head to the nearest mall.
A finite dollar amount was allocated to each daughter to spend on that day.
Moe created a scavenger-hunt list of things our daughters were required to purchase/find/do with the allotted dollars. Here’s sample list of those requirements (though it’s not exhaustive):
-A pair of jeans
-Something for your feet (socks, shoes, footies, nail polish, etc.)
-Underclothing of some kind
-Something to read
-Some kind of perfume or body wash
-Donate to some charity
-Music in some form
-Something for your hands (gloves, lotion, nail polish, rings, etc.)
-A gift for your invited friend
-Something for your hair
-Something for your room
-Compliment a stranger, somehow, some way
-A treat for yourself and your friend
-If the list of requirements was completed, left over money could be kept; if not, left over money must be given to the sibling
While the girls were on their scavenger hunt, Moe and I would head off to enjoy a not-so-hustle-and-bustle holiday. We would leisurely drink coffee in a quaint coffee house, then have a quiet lunch, then have some adult beverages, and maybe even take in a movie.
At a pre-determined late afternoon rendezvous point, we would all load up the car and trek back to our home.
The most enjoyable portion of the day then ensued. Once we arrived at home, the girls would then produce each of their purchases and share the stories behind the purchases.
Finally, any money left over (if the hunt proved incomplete) was handed over to the sister, most begrudgingly.
Those were fun days, relatively stress free days, days full of laughter and engagement, days without work, days without television, days without unrealistic expectations, days without superficial climaxes or subdued disappointments. Those remembrances still bring a smile to my face.
The biggest lesson for me in those ChristmasAltered undertakings was/is that it’s experiences that make things memorable, not “stuff.”
Merry Christmas, and make some cool memories with those you love this season.