Shop ‘Til You Drop…Or Don’t

exhausted shoppers

Ok, so I’m going to jump on the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa before Thanksgiving thing. Just for a minute. Bear with me.

Normally I am one of those “don’t-rush-through-the-holidays” kind of people, and truthfully, I still am.

I believe October is for Halloween, visits to the pumpkin patch or apple orchard, playing in the leaves and football.

Halloween-Football1

 

I believe November is all about giving thanks, stopping to pause daily and counting our blessings. Enjoying our family for Thanksgiving, and of course, football.

Toon Football Turkey

I believe December is the month for the giving season, regardless of your faith. For us it’s about Christmas, presents, playing in the snow and yes… still about football. (but hey, we are a retired NFL family, what did you expect?)

football_santa

But I also believe in being prepared. Although I have taken the pledge NOT to shop on Thanksgiving and I am focusing on the Thanksgiving holiday for the month of November, I am also preparing for the next round of holidays by keeping a few things at the back of my mind. You see, having two kids with juvenile arthritis has changed my perspective a bit.  I know that even with a “normal” family, three weeks may not be enough time to prepare for the Christmas season, so if you add in OUR worries (such as what if one of my kids flares, and keeps us housebound, or even worse, sends us for a hospital stay?) then you can see why I am even more vigilant about planning ahead.

How do I do this without being consumed by Christmas before Thanksgiving?

Glad you asked.

I pull each of my kids aside and ask them how they feel about members of the family. I want them to think about ways that those people make a difference in their lives, and how that translates into being thankful for sharing their lives with them. Then I ask them to think about (and I mean REALLY think about) something we could do for them, or get for them that would mean something for that person. It’s not about giving gifts, its about giving thoughtful gifts. Sometimes the answer comes quickly, other times it takes a few weeks to come up with the perfect thing. This is why I start early, but still honor the Thanksgiving spirit by considering the blessing that person is in our lives, and considering what type of gift would honor the contribution they make.

When my boys were really little, they heard their dad lament the retirement of his favorite threadbare blanket from our pre-marital days. It was super soft, and had a satin binding all around. It wasn’t just any blanket, it was one of those luxuriously cuddly, comforting snuggle-me kind of blankets, but its useful life was truly over. That year, my boys thought the perfect gift for their dad would be a replacement blanket, a bigger one that all of us could cuddle under for movie nights. We looked all over, but couldn’t seem to find one that was similar to the one that he loved. Finally, I came across one online and ordered it. The boys made cards and wrapping paper, decorated with the classic preschooler reindeer made of hand and footprints, kind of like the one below:

 

reindeer

Bonus! Cute wrapping paper for dad but making memories with mom!

.

He still has that blanket, as well as memories of them snuggling under it, wanting to watch football or movies with him. It was a gift of the heart, not just from the store. The same Christmas, I got an automatic pot stirrer, so that I could spend less time in the kitchen, and more time with them. They were really gifts from them (and we still chuckle about that pot stirrer!)

Early on, we made our gift giving about the quality rather than the quantity. We made it about the thought over the actual present and as a reflection of what that person meant in our lives. To do that well, we had to do it a bit before Thanksgiving, but I still think if fits well with the NOVEMBER holiday!

Then I take it one step further.

Now that my boys are older, we also think about how we can make a difference with our Christmas shopping. As I mentioned, we put our families first, and spend the Thanksgiving weekend at home, together. We do more shopping online, and what we do locally, we try to support the “little guy,” or family owned businesses.

We make our online shopping count too, utilizing links that provide a charitable affiliation, like Amazon Smile. This is a GREAT program where you buy everything that you normally would from Amazon, but by using the Amazon Smile portal (and at NO additional cost to you) .5% of the purchase price will be donated to a charity of your choice. You can even spread the wealth and change your charity partway through the shopping season! Of course, since pediatric rheumatic diseases are close to our heart, we would love for you to follow our lead and choose a cause like Cure JM or  the Jeffrey Gottfurcht Childrens Arthritis Foundation. Both charities can be found within the approved organizations list on Amazon Smile. If you are shopping there anyway, why not?

Shopping less, or at least not shopping ’til we drop, may be part of our “new normal,” since my kids just can’t tolerate that much activity, or risk being out with all the crowds since they take immunosuppressive medications, but it also helps us keep sight of the true meaning of both seasons- we are thankful, we are thoughtful, and we are giving in the true spirit of  the holiday. We are less stressed because we plan in advance, and do less commercial activities while spending more time doing family activities.

 

Isn’t that really what the holidays are supposed to be about?

 

 

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Comments:

  1. What a beautiful idea! I am taking note of this and will try to get my little family on board with this. We already try to leave November to Thanksgiving and we NEVER shop on Black Friday. No way. Your way of using Thanksgiving lessons to help plan what to buy for loved ones though is just brilliant. Thank you!

    • Jenny, Thank you for coming by and taking time to comment. Its nice to hear that others feel the same way about over-commercialization, preserving time with their families, and helping others to preserve time with theirs (by not shopping on days we should be spending with ours!) Glad you were inspired by our tradition, and hope it works for you too. Now that my kids are teens, I have found that incorporating this tradition has helped them not to succumb to the holiday hype, as well as the buy,buy,buy mentality the rest of the year. Sure, they still want stuff, but are less driven by the quest to get it than others their age. That is huge to me as a parent. Maybe I have done at least a couple things right!

  2. Oh my goodness…the automatic pot stirrer!! What a thoughtful gift…if it worked. lol.

    I start shopping for Christmas myself in July. A little thing every week. We don’t have spare money, and it’s even tighter this year, so what little things I can get along the way mean everything. My kids always do Santa Shoppe at school. The gifts are cheesy, but they really put thought into what they’re getting for us.

    • Exactly! But the thought behind the pot stirrer melted my heart. They wanted to make my life easier, and wanted to spend more time with me! I agree with you, some of the cheesiest gifts are the ones that mean the most!

  3. I prefer family activities during festivals too. The second half of the year is indeed filled with festivals and celebrations for me too. 🙂 Coming in from NaBloPoMo. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by Jyothi! I think its a sign of the times, that so many of our celebrations are just driven by economics. We don’t have to let it be that way though! We can take it back by putting family first, and using opportunities like the ones I mentioned, to make the holidays mean more. I admit, I will still shop, BUT it will be secondary to family activities,the gifts will be thoughtful, not just giving for gifting’s sake and the money I spend will make a difference, not just supporting commercialism. We can make a difference if we all take a stand!

  4. Shop now before Black Friday. 🙂

    • Its a catch 22 for me- too much shopping (or thoughts of Christmas) eclipses Thanksgiving, yet waiting until after can provide logistical problems, especially if we have a disease flare with either kid! Shopping “in my head” first… that is, carefully selecting the right gift before I ever go shopping is a big part of how I manage things. Then, I try to purchase locally, from the little guy OR online in a way that makes my purchase more meaningful…I can feel good about shopping with online retailers that give something back, and now that we have “cyber monday” I don’t have to miss out on the great deals either!

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  2. […] lets not forget the venues I mentioned in my previous post- Shop ‘Til You Drop There are several websites, such as Amazon Smile, that will donate a portion of your holiday […]

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