Give an UnUsual Gift This Holiday Season

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The tasks can seem endless:

  • shopping,
  • wrapping,
  • decorating,
  • planning,
  • addressing,
  • cooking… 

There’s no time to stop.  As soon as one chore is completed, there are two more to add to the list.  The kids may be barely cooperative.  And to add to the stress, they may be coming down with those cold weather sniffles or stomach troubles.

Welcome to the “most wonderful time of the year.”  The holiday season is upon us.


Making the Holidays Perfect

Parents often feel the burden of making this season special for their kids.  We want them to be happy and healthy.  We want our homes to hum in harmony.  We want their childhood memories of this season to be full of joy-filled times.

The world tells us the way to give kids an ear- to-ear smile is by giving them stuff.  But we can’t just purchase or hang up ordinary stuff.  It has to be the newest, biggest, fastest, brightest, coolest…you get the idea.  Costliest typically factors into the equation as well.

However, if we pause and think back to previous years of personal experiences, the excitement of this stuff often wears off after a few days or even a couple of hours.  The smiles turn to less pleasant expressions.

Where does this leave us?  Usually frustrated, in debt and resentful.


An UnUusal Gift

Perhaps this year, we could shift from the usual and incorporate a bit more of the unUsual.   My suggestion?  Give the kids less stuff and more of U.  Translated – YOU!

Let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages.


  • Growing closer                                       
  • Having fun                                             
  • Sharing tasks                                         
  • Teaching, passing on skills
  • Creating lasting memories
  • Reduction of stress


  • Tasks may take longer
  • Relationships require energy and effort that may be in short supply
  • Conflict may emerge

Stuff wears out; it breaks; it grows old.  Relationships are alive, can change, grow, and impact both persons in countless ways for years to come.


How Can You Give YOU?

How might your relationships grow this season?    

Here are some ideas:

  • Plan together and carry out preparation for a special meal or treat.
  • Let your child teach you a new skill – snowboarding, a craft?!
  • Choose a gift or plan a surprise for a family member.
  • Go for a walk – walks in the snow can be magical!
  • Write a family holiday letter to send, having the kids write or dictate the portion describing their year and activities.


A Story

A mother of a son who was completing his freshman year of college received the following note in a Mother’s Day card:


While I was at school this fall, I missed being with you and talking with you.  The times we spend together are special to me and I have a lot of great memories of having fun with you.  Thank you for all you have helped me with and done for me.  I can’t wait to see you at winter break.

Despite the seemingly endless moments of stress and conflict, despite the minutes, hours and days of extra energy and effort, this note emphasized the importance of their relationship.  The time and effort this mom put in in developing a warm and accepting relationship with her son paid off for both of them. What a gift!

This mom considered these words more valuable than stuff.  Her son considered their times together more valuable than stuff.  Her heart was and still is humming with harmonious tunes.


A Parting Wish

May your holiday season contain unUsual gifts that create memories filled with joy!   Enjoy each other.


By Pam Nicholson, Certified Parenting Educator, MSW




For more information about healthy parenting, check out the following books. Purchasing books from our website through supports the work we do to help parents do the best job they can to raise their children.


Liberated Parents, Liberated Children by Faber and Mazlish Blessings of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel The Whole Brain Child by Dan SiegelParenting by Heart by Ron Taffel

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