When Too Much is Too Much

This Christmas Say No to Presents, Yes to Presence

By Judy H. Wright

A few years ago at a family Christmas gathering, the adults looked at the mounds of packages under the tree and shuddered. It was obscene in the over abundance of material possessions. One uncle mentioned that the Christ Child had only three gifts, so perhaps we should follow suit.

We carefully went through the packages, selecting every third one to put in a box. The mounds hardly looked smaller. Then this time around, we substituted an envelope for the present. In the envelope was a promise for time; uninterrupted, alone time with an adult that loved them. The next pass through was to exchange a present for a big envelope promising the gift to be delivered in two weeks time, if the child still wanted it.

The pile of presents looked more realistic and surprisingly only a few of the children complained and wanted more. When we explained that we had been confused when we bought so many toys and trinkets and had forgotten what the real gift was; our love and respect for one another.

We promised them a Christmas this year they would never forget like they had forgotten the toys from last year. The adults turned off the televised games, put down the newspapers and we all went for a long walk and outside games.

No to Presents, Yes to Presence
We spent time with each child and they heard something that we had all forgotten how to say. No. It was a precious gift to give our children the knowledge that you can’t always have everything you want. Sometimes in life you will be disappointed. Live with it. Understand that toys, clothes, trinkets and the latest thing advertised will eventually break or go out of style.

True Happiness is Never Given, it is Shared
Electronics will never compare with a Grandpa who reads to you, or an Aunt who bakes chocolate chip cookies with you. It is time not trinkets that make happy children and families. If you are concerned that your children and grandchild seem to be spoiled and selfish, I know how you feel, I felt that way too. Now we have found that the children look for less under the tree and more meaningful time spent with the adults in their lives.

Do you feel as if the children you care for have too many material possessions?


  1. Great quote you posted: "It is time not trinkets that make happy children and families."I think it should be our motto.

  2. My first daily afterschool babysitting job in high school(Perhaps a sign of being a nanny)including a then two year old. By the time she was a teen she requested that her family not open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas day but to possibly even wait until after Epiphany. 🙂 Her reason was she wanted to keep the priorities in line.From her, I really learned to not get caught up in things anymore too.

  3. Wouldn't it be awesome if those grown ups gave that time and attention to the kids year round, rather than it being a special thing at Christmas?

  4. thankfully we aren't the parents and aren't blamed as much for children that are ignored. but i get the concept and appreciate the thoughts. parents that work over compensate for their guilt by giving too many gifts.

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