Simplify Christmas

A collection of class notes from Joe Prin

Do you look forward to Christmas or Dread it? And that which you dread, is it the Christ in Christmas or the stuff we have built around it? Gift giving and receiving, parties, decorations, relatives, work schedules.

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” – Bob Hope

Tonight, in the short time we have together, we will outline the theory of a simplified Christmas.  Everything I will bring up is in the notes I’ll pass out at the end of class.  There are also some reference materials that you will want to read through in the coming days.

What are you favorite memories of a Christmas past?

Thought:  It is hard for me to wrap my head around how today, so many of the lowest wage earners have to work the longest and hardest around Christmas so that I can shop 24/7. What do you think when we see people fighting to get the good deals?


We should not take away the pleasure others get from giving us a gift.  Accept with enthusiasm and joy, but it is not necessary for you to then reciprocate.

Quality over quantity-  Ask kids what they got as gifts last year.  Remember?

As new things come into our household, do we eliminate something else?

The environmental side of gifts- Packaging and waste!

Consider wrapping cloth or bags that can be used over and over.


by Joshua Becker

Gift-giving is a love language and I do not want to rob my family members of that simple joy. But I prefer quality over quantity, needs over wants, experiences over products, and provide gift wish-lists whenever possible.

For the kids, we reevaluate toy boxes and closet space a few months after the holidays to determine if there are items (new or old) to remove. The philosophy is simple, straight-forward, and easy to manage. “I don’t love Christmas shopping, or the overconsumption, frenzied malls, consumer debt, environmental waste, wasted time wrapping, and over-accumulation of needless stuff that goes with it.Bah humbug! I love Christmas, but the shopping has got to go.”    Thoughts”

Discussion topic:

Are we giving or buying? Where is our joy from?

Do we need to buy things to give things?

People get so much stuff they can’t possibly treasure everything. True?

Going into debt to buy things for others. Smart?

Pay less attention to advertising.  They are creating demand for stuff you do not need.


We already have so much clutter — do we need more? Trinkets and trash you would never consider at other times of year.

You might be ready for this but what about your spouse?  All aboard!

The worry of a perceived opinion of us by others.  What will our family say?  Will be the weirdos of the clan? Are we trying to please parents or Grandparents to so we can carry on their ways.

We have always done this, it is a tradition.

Gallup estimates the average American will spend $714 on Christmas gifts that no one actually needs this year. Most will go on credit.

Look around, you have everything. Your family has everything.

Alternative giving: In the name of someone who needs nothing, but still a gift.

Micro Loans- KIVA and similar orginizations.

The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents


I love Christmas. I love the snow-themed everything, even when I was living on tropical Guam, and Santa and elves and reindeer and snowmen and candy canes. Yes, I even love the non-stop playing of Christmas music for two months.

Most of all, I love getting together with my family — eating Christmas cookies, singing Christmas carols together, gossiping and laughing at each other. It’s tremendous fun.

I don’t love Christmas shopping, or the overconsumption, frenzied malls, consumer debt, environmental waste, wasted time wrapping, and over-accumulation of needless stuff that goes with it.

Bah humbug! I love Christmas, but the shopping has got to go. Here’s why. Warning: This will be a rant of near-epic proportions.

  1. The focus is on buying, not on sharing. I love the idea of giving to people you love, but that idea has been twisted. Now people go out in a mad rush to shop, like ravenous vampires feasting on new blood. We shop for a month, rip apart the packaging one morning, and then forget about it the next day. Is this about giving, or buying?
  1. Giving is great, but buying is not the solution. Again, I’m in love with giving … but do we need to buy to give? We seem to think that buying is the solution to any problem, but that has lead to a society that is deeply in debt and piled high with needless stuff. We can find other ways to give: bake cookies, wash someone’s car, babysit so they can go on a date night, create a photo album, be there when they need help moving.
  1. The waste, oh the waste. Let’s start with packaging: the packaging for every toy is double the volume of the toy itself. From cardboard to plastic to metal twist-ties, it’s ridiculous. Then every item we buy must be brought home in bags. We often put everything in boxes. Then we buy wrapping paper and wrap it all up. All of this gets thrown away on Christmas day. Finally, there’s the gift itself — people get so much stuff they can’t possibly treasure everything. So it goes into the closet to be forgotten.
  1. The sorrowful debt. Most people spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on gifts and wrapping. Not to mention all the money spent on gas, driving to different shopping places, and the money spent on fattening food at mall food courts. This goes on credit cards (and around our waistlines), and we then must pay for this — with high interest — during the year. Even if you don’t get into debt, you’re spending money earned from long hours of hard work — is this really how you want to spend your life, paying for needless stuff so corporations can get rich?
  1. The horrendous, insipid, seizure-inducing advertising. Ican’t stand advertising, and it only gets worse on Christmas. The ads pound on you relentlessly until you give in — and it works. That’s been proven — those ads are getting you to buy more, to want more, to lay down the credit card. I don’t watch TV, read newspapers or magazines, or allow ads in my browser (AdBlock) so that I don’t have to be subjected to this.
  1. The fuel. If you drive all over the place to shop, you’re using lots of fuel. Even if you just order online, think of the fuel it takes to deliver these products (overnight!) to your home. And the fuel used to create the products, to get the raw materials to the factories, to cut down the raw materials, to ship the finished product to the stores or warehouses from around the world (most likely from China), not to mention all the fuel used to create and ship the packaging. It’s a few million metric craploads of fuel, wasted for giving some presents that will be forgotten.
  1. There are still hungry people in the world. In the frenzy that is Christmas shopping, we spend ridiculous amounts of money that is pure waste. In other countries, people are struggling just to eat, or get medicine, or find shelter, or get clean drinking water. We spend so much in a show of consumerist greed, when that money could go to feed a few dozen families. If you have money to waste, consider donating it to an organization that is helping these types of families. I know this sounds preachy, but really, this kind of reminder is necessary in times like these.
  1. The neverending clutter. What happens to all the gifts? They go on our shelves, in our closets, on the floor. We already have so much clutter — do we need more? We already have problems figuring out what to do with everything we own. Why do we want to clutter our homes even more? Why do we want to force clutter on our loved ones, oblige them to find a spot in their already cluttered homes for this gift we’ve given them, so they won’t offend us when we come to visit? Is this obligation really a gift?


Q: But what about the kids?
A: Kids love getting presents (I have six kids — I should know!). I sure did when I was a kid. Are we to rob them of this? It’s a difficult question, but another side of the equation to consider is what we are teaching the kids. They don’t just participate in the opening of presents — they see all the shopping too. They are being taught to shop, and to value material goods over anything else. Imagine their lives when they’re grown — a life of shopping and debt and waste, because that’s what’s important, right? So for the joy of opening a few presents for a couple hours on Christmas day, we’re imparting on them consumerist values that will last them a lifetime.

I think, instead, this can be a great opportunity to have an open discussion with kids about buying and spending and debt. Did you receive this kind of education when you were a kid? Would you have been better off if you had? This is also a great opportunity to teach kids about giving to others, about volunteering and helping the less fortunate, about finding other ways to spend time with loved ones that don’t require shopping. My kids do want presents — but I don’t want them to think that’s what Christmas is all about. We’ve been having this discussion and we will continue to this month.

Q: But what about family?
A: Family, believe it or not, will survive without a few presents from us. They can continue to shop and give presents, but you can simply tell them that you don’t want to participate this year. Send them a link to this article to explain why.

This is also a great opportunity (you see how I love turning problems into opportunities?) to create new traditions with your family — go caroling, string popcorn for the tree, make Christmas cookies, bake pies, play football outside, create Christmas scrapbooks, volunteer.

Q: But I love giving presents!
A: Sure, who doesn’t? And you might also love shopping. Shopping, for many people, is a pleasure like no other. This can be a problem, in my mind: you might be using shopping to give you temporary happiness, to fill a hole in your life, to make you happy when you’re depressed or stressed or lonely. I’m not saying you are, but many people do, and it’s good to take a look at these things. Richer happiness can be found in simpler things that don’t involve spending: being with loved ones, creating, reading, getting outside and doing something active.

Even if you aren’t addicted to shopping, you might just love giving presents. And that’s OK — but you might consider giving more meaningful presents that don’t require lots of shopping. Creating a photo album or scrapbook for someone takes time and thought, while laying down a credit card at Macy’s doesn’t.

Q: How do you convince a spouse who equates lavish gifts with love & appreciation?
A: This definitely isn’t easy. It’s an important discussion to have, however. You’ll need to do it without accusations, without resentment, without making the other person feel he’s under attack. Bring it up as an ongoing discussion about things you’re thinking about — maybe even point to this post as a starting point.

This is such an important discussion because so many couples get badly into debt for this reason — one partner has different values about material goods, shopping, debt, gifts, and so on, and the other partner hates to fight about it so doesn’t talk about it. Financial issues are also a big reason couples split up. So finding a healthy way to talk about values, about financial goals, about how you want to live your lives, is so crucial. Do it gently, with compassion, as a way to live together as a team rather than two people struggling against each other.

A good way to get started is to write a blog post or a letter to your spouse about your feelings — again, without being attacking. You might explain why you’re not into giving presents, that you still love your spouse but want to show it in non-consumerist ways, that there are other traditions the two of you could start together to share your love.

Alternatives to buying

There are so many good ideas, but a few:

  • Do other things with family, such as caroling, baking, watching It’s a Wonderful Life, playing football outside.
  • Volunteer as a family at a homeless shelter.
  • Ask people to donate to your favorite charity in lieu of gifts.
  • Make meaningful gifts.
  • Do a gift swap where you put a valued possession (that you already own) into the swap.
  • Bake gifts.
  • Have an experience instead of giving material goods: do something fun together, go to the beach or a lake.
  • Find hope. Christmas has so much potential to be about so much more than buying — it can be a season of hope, renewal, loved ones, inspiration, contemplation. Talk to your family about this — how can we find ways to be hopeful, thankful, cooperative? How can we be more present instead of worried about getting presents?
  • Get stuff at Goodwill. It’s recycled, and the money helps a good cause.

Simple Strategy to Save $2,000 this Holiday and Make Everyone Love You Forever

My name is Everett Bogue, and I think you’re an idiot.

Why? Because you think that buying people things for Christmas will make them love you.

You think this for a lot of reasons, here are a few of them.

  1. You’ve been giving and getting presents at Christmas since the dawn of time. It must be right, right?
  2. Youwatched TV and saw all of the happy faces around the Christmas tree in the Coca Cola commercials, in the car commercials, in the clothing commercials. Going to to the mall to buy things for people must be what Christmas is all about, right?
  3. Youhaven’t followed up as to where the stuff that you bought everyone for Christmas actually ended up by the time New Year’s came around (hint: the closet, where no one has to look at what you gave them. 

Why your reality is broken.

The simple fact is that your mind has been manipulated by mega-corporations into the mess that it is now. You’ve been bombarded by advertising since the day you were born telling you that the only way Christmas would be a success was if you spent somewhere around $1,000 on gifts for people.

Gallup estimates the average American will spend $714 on Christmas gifts that no one actually needs this year. If you hadn’t read this post, you probably would have spent way more. There’s no need to thank me yet, keep reading.

What they didn’t tell you about Christmas-gift-giving is that no one actually cares anymore. They don’t want the stuff you’re buying them. In fact, everyone you give gifts to is trying to recycle them, donate them, or stuff them in their attic as soon as possible.

Think about it this way: when was the last time you got something for Christmas that you really wanted?  I’m waiting… still nothing? Exactly.

If you didn’t get anything you wanted, maybe you’re not giving anything that anyone wants either. Why does no one care about the sweater or flashlight you gave them? Here’s the deal. We already have way more than we ever needed. Look around, you have everything. Your family has everything. If you didn’t have something you needed, you could go to the corner store or Target and buy it for less than $20.  The reality is that your holiday shopping is overlooking the one thing that everyone actually wants Santa Claus to bring for them.

While you were at the mall running around swiping your credit card, a small child was crying into their pillow asking for something that you never could buy them at the mall.

What is the one thing that everyone wants for Xmas?  Freedom.

One more time: the best gift anyone can get for Christmas is freedom. Why?

Because the #1 most valuable commodity in the world is freedom. The ability to live on your own terms, doing what you want to do with your life.

And the fact that you’re buying crap for people is in direct opposition of the most important goal in everyone’s life. What is everyone’s goal? Freedom.

One more time, just in case you missed it: more stuff ? freedom.

You know what the worst part about this whole equation is? The crap you’re buying for people is getting in the way of your own freedom too. Couldn’t you use all of that cash you’re spending on stuff for people’s closets on making your own life better? I think so.

How to operate with a blown mind.

I understand, you’re confused and scared. What I’m saying is blowing your mind. Has every Christmas gift you’ve given been a waste?   Well, no. You see, for a long time having a lot of things was a sign of wealth. People who had money would buy fancy cars and decorate their living rooms with all of the nicest Ikea furniture.  But somewhere along the way that changed. The fact is that our generation, yours and mine, is starting to figure out that there is a better way to display your wealth. This generation is calling themselves a lot of things. Some operate under the moniker of Minimalist Freedom Fighters, others call this generation The New Rich.

Our generation is the most mobile generation ever. We live out of backpacks, wandering the world in search of experiences. We don’t want another set of Ultimate Scrabble or another dinky flashlight/radio, because we already have it on our iPhone — and besides, it wouldn’t fit into our backpack.

What is certain is this: the less you have the more choices you have to pursue your dreams.

If dreams are like fairies, every time you give a Christmas present, Tinkerbell falls out of the sky somewhere and a lost boy cries.

So how can we fix Christmas?

If you’ve stuck around long enough to get to this point in the blog post, I’d like to offer some resources in order to save a ton of money, as well as make people want to sit next to you at the dining room table at Christmas.

  1. Use your resources to help someone achieve their dreams. All of your friends and family are trying to achieve something (probably freedom, see above.) Ifyou have the resources to spend tons of money on Christmas gifts, then you have the ability to re-direct those resources towards helping your family achieve great things. Ask your little cousin what they want to learn, and then help them pay for a class so they can learn it. Does your cousin need more education in order to rock the opportunities the world has to offer? Ask and see if there’s any way you can help. Does your sister need funding to get her minimalist business off the ground? Maybe give her a few hundred bucks with no strings attached. If you don’t have any friends or family who need help, consider investing your money in Kiva International so that entrepreneurs in 3rd world countries can help themselves and their families this holiday season.
  1. Two inexpensive and under-appreciated gifts. There are two things that canmake Christmas dinner better. 1. Hugs, which are COMPLETELY FREE, and so infrequently given. 2. More wine. If you absolutely must buy something, use your money to get something that everyone can share and consume at Christmas dinner — then no one has to try to figure out what the socially acceptable length of time before they can make another trip to Salvation Army is.

What will make your life better? What will make you happier? I know this is a hard question to ask yourself. The answer is almost certainly not giving useless gifts to people who don’t need them. I bet you want to book a trip to Europe right now, don’t you? Well, do it. Or maybe you want to start a small business that pays for your life as you live and work from anywhere? Well, do it. Or maybe you want to learn something? Well, go take a freakin’ class and learn something new!  You’ve only got a short time on this planet, so don’t waste it being conned into wasting your money on stupid junk by giant corporations. You’re worth more to yourself than that.

This post is going to go viral without your help, because it matters this holiday season.

But, if you liked the message and don’t want to get another flashlight for Christmas, I’d love if you’d send this to your entire family, all of your friends, and perhaps your neighbors too. Definitely send it to that one person in your family who always buys you junk that you don’t need, you know who they are.

I know what I’ll be doing on Christmas Eve. My wife, my 4-year-old daughter, my dad, my brother, and I will snowshoe out into the woods in late afternoon, ready to choose a hemlock or a balsam fir and saw it down — I’ve had my eye on three or four likely candidates all year. We’ll bring it home, shake off the snow, decorate it, and then head for church, where the Sunday school class I help teach will gamely perform this year’s pageant. (Last year, along with the usual shepherds and wise people, it featured a lost star talking on a cell phone.) And then it’s home to hang stockings, stoke the fire, and off to bed. As traditional as it gets, except that there’s no sprawling pile of presents under the tree.

Several years ago, a few of us in the northern New York and Vermont conference of the United Methodist Church started a campaign for what we called “Hundred Dollar Holidays.” The church leadership voted to urge parishioners not to spend more than $100 per family on presents, to rely instead on simple homemade gifts and on presents of services — a back rub, stacking a cord of firewood. That first year I made walking sticks for everyone. Last year I made spicy chicken sausage. My mother has embraced the idea by making calendars illustrated with snapshots she’s taken.

The $100 figure was a useful anchor against the constant seductions of the advertisers, a way to explain to children why they weren’t getting everything on their list. So far, our daughter, Sophie, does fine at Christmas. Her stocking is exciting to her; the tree is exciting; skating on the pond is exciting. It’s worth mentioning, however, that we don’t have a television, so she may not understand the degree of her impoverishment.

This holiday idea may sound modest. It is modest. And yet at the same time it’s pretty radical. Christmas, it turns out, is a bulwark of the nation’s economy. Many businesses — bookstores, for instance, where I make my living — do one-third of their volume in the months just before December 25th. And so it hits a nerve to question whether it all makes sense, whether we should celebrate the birth of a man who said we should give all that we have to the poor by showering each other with motorized tie racks.

It’s radical for another reason, too. If you believe that our consumer addiction represents our deepest problem — the force that keeps us from reaching out to others, from building a fair society, the force that drives so much of our environmental degradation — then Christmas is the nadir. Sure, advertising works its powerful dark magic year-round. But on Christmas morning, with everyone piling downstairs to mounds of presents, consumption is made literally sacred. Here, under a tree with roots going far back into prehistory, here next to a crèche with a figure of the infant child of God, we press stuff on each other, stuff that becomes powerfully connected in our heads to love, to family, and even to salvation. The 12 days of Christmas — and in many homes the eight nights of Hanukkah — are a cram course in consumption, a kind of brainwashing.

When we began the $100 campaign, merchants, who wrote letters to the local papers, made it clear to us what a threatening idea it was. Newspaper columnists thought it was pretty extreme, too — one said church people should stick to religion and leave the economy alone. Another said that while our message had merit, it would do too much damage to business.

And he was right, or at least not wrong. If we all backed out of Christmas excess this year, we would sink many a gift shop; if we threw less lavish office parties, caterers would suffer — and florists and liquor wholesalers and on down the feeding chain. But we have to start somewhere, if we’re ever to climb down from the unsustainable heights we’ve reached, and Christmas might as well be it.

When we first began to spread this idea about celebrating Christmas in a new way, we were earnest and sober. Big-time Christmas was an environmental disgrace — all that wrapping paper, all those batteries. The money could be so much better spent: The price of one silk necktie could feed a village for a day; the cost of a big-screen television could vaccinate more than 60 kids. And struggling to create a proper Christmas drives poor families into debt. Where I live, which is a poor and cold place, January finds many people cutting back on heat to pay off their bills.

Those were all good reasons to scale back. But as we continued our campaign, we found we weren’t really interested in changing Christmas because we wanted fewer batteries. We wanted more joy. We felt cheated by the Christmases we were having — so rushed, so busy, so full of mercantile fantasy and catalog hype that we couldn’t relax and enjoy the season.

Our growing need to emphasize joy over guilt says a great deal about the chances for Christian radicalism, for religious radicalism in general. At its truest, religion represents the one force in our society that can postulate some goal other than accumulation. In an

I-dolatrous culture, religion can play a subversive role. Churches, mosques, and synagogues almost alone among our official institutions can say, It’s not the economy, stupid. It’s your life. It’s learning that there’s some other center to the universe.

Having that other center can change the way we see the world around us. It’s why devoted clergy and laypeople occasionally work small miracles in inner cities and prisons; it’s why alcoholics talk about a Higher Power. If we’re too big, then perhaps the solution lies in somehow making ourselves a little smaller.

You may be too late for this christmas. You may already have bought your pile of stuff, or perhaps it’s too late to broach the subject with relatives who will gather with you for the holidays, bearing (and therefore expecting) great stacks of loot. Our local Methodist ministers begin in September, preaching a skit sermon about the coming holiday. Many in our church community now participate. So do some of our neighbors and friends around the country.

None of us is under any illusions; we know that turning the focus of Christmas back to Christ is a long and patient effort, one that works against every force that consumer culture can muster. But to judge from our own holidays in recent years, it’s well worth the effort. I know what we’ll be doing Christmas morning: After we open our stockings and exchange our few homemade gifts, we’ll go out for a hike. Following the advice of St. Francis of Assisi, who said that even the birds deserve to celebrate this happy day, we’ll spread seed hither and yon — and for one morning the chickadees and the jays will have it easy. And then we’ll head back inside to the warm and fragrant kitchen and start basting the turkey, shaping the rolls, mashing the potatoes.

Some things are sacred.

Bill McKibben is the author of The End of Nature. His next book, Maybe One: An Environmental and Personal Argument for Single-Child Families, will be published by Random House in the spring.

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget


You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” —Kahlil Gibran

I have countless holiday memories. Most of them center around faith, family, and traditions.  Very few childhood memories actually include the gifts I received. I distinctly remember the year that I got a blue dirt bike, the evening my brother and I received a Nintendo, and opening socks every year from my grandparents. But other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. Which got me thinking… what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever?

To that end, here is an alphabetical list.

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget:

  1. Affirmation.Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.
  2. Art.With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…
  3. Challenge.Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.
  4. Compassion/Justice.Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.
  5. Contentment.The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are.
  6. Curiosity.Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.
  7. Determination.One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?
  8. Discipline.Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.
  9. Encouragement.Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.
  10. Faithfulness to your Spouse.Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice.
  11. Finding Beauty.Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.
  12. Generosity.Teach your children to be generous withyour stuff so that they will become generous with theirs.
  13. Honesty/Integrity.Children who learn the value and importance ofhonestyat a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.
  14. Hope.Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.
  15. Hugs and Kisses.I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.
  16. Imagination.If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.
  17. Intentionality.I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.
  18. Your Lap.It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.
  19. Lifelong Learning.A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.
  20. Love.…but the greatest of these is love.
  21. Meals Together.Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.
  22. Nature.Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?
  23. Opportunity.Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.
  24. Optimism.Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.
  25. Peace.On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.
  26. Pride.Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.
  27. Room to make mistakes.Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.
  28. Self-Esteem.People who learn to value themselves are more likely to haveself-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.
  29. Sense of Humor.Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.
  30. Spirituality.Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.
  31. Stability.A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.
  32. Time.The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.
  33. Undivided Attention.Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.
  34. Uniqueness.What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniquenessshould not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.
  35. A Welcoming Home.To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?

Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.