Expressing love is an essential part of my day. I work hard on a daily basis to make sure every member of my house feels appreciated, worthy, and loved. And while everyone’s love language is different, mine is clear: I am a gifter. But with four kids and a husband, I have decided that this year I’m reigning it in, because it’s getting out of control and absurdly expensive.
To be clear, I don’t mean I’m purchasing lavish items all the time or handing out perfectly wrapped and curated boxes for every occasion. Honestly, most of the time, I’m talking more like a pack of Tic Tacs or a T-shirt I spotted at Target. Sometimes it’s something they need; other times it’s something pretty useless or silly I spotted when I was at the grocery store checkout that I think will elicit a smile. But as a family of six, we’ve now reached our max capacity for “stuff.” Between the clutter and all the ongoing bills and expenses of running my house, I’m finding myself needing to rein it in big time.
And duh, using material things to celebrate achievement or show love is probably not the greatest parenting method. It is clearly over-emphasizing the value of stuff and placing a connection between love and appreciation and spending money. And when I say it like that, it feels embarrassing.
So this holiday season, I plan to scale back. What was once an extravagant under-the-tree scene will now be a modest showing of holiday spirit. Because although it does bring joy, I realize it’s not lasting. In previous years, I’ve spent months brainstorming and searching for the perfect gifts and hours assembling, wrapping, and organizing.
I was putting way too much emphasis on creating the perfect Christmas morning. And then the morning arrives, and the brief wave of happiness is over so quickly. My kids rip into their stuff with glee and in less than an hour, they are onto the next thing. Because ya know the famous phrase, “money can’t buy happiness”? Well, it ain’t wrong.
And I think it applies to my happiness in the whole scenario too. The buying and the giving does bring me joy — but it’s temporary and maybe I do it out of boredom. And what is it I’m trying to achieve? I need to unwind my brain to stop seeking the glittery item as something I need. I want them to know how much I love them all and think about them even when I am out running errands. But there are other ways to send that message. And this year, I’m determined to remember that, no matter how many cute little stocking stuffers I see.
And while I won’t likely be able to revamp my entire love language overnight, maybe it’s time I start leaning on the other ways I show my kids that I love them. Things like words of affirmation, hugs, and quality time, which are, after all, free to me and have a more lasting effect anyway. I could maybe even snap a photo of something that reminds me of them and show them later — equally thoughtful but a lot less expensive. Wish me luck.
Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.