Christmas is coming. Time for me to get all anti-commercial goods on you! I am serious about it though. I always think my girls have too much stuff. I have too much stuff. We all have TOO MUCH STUFF! I love giving and receiving presents. Most of us do. I am not saying this should stop, but a monetary exchange, a gift draw, or the like, really puts me off.
The greatest gift is time. This is true on all levels. Your time is solely yours (it may not feel that way sometimes, but it truly is YOURS TO GIVE).
I saw the direct impact of giving time to underprivileged kids when I coached football for 10-12 year old boys from da’ hood. Many were tough nosed kids from single parent homes, with very few positive male role models. This was a rough lot, with an “F” the world attitude.
Yet, with the gift of my time-I saw actual positive change. whether it was teaching one how to throw a spiral, or how to shave-they developed a sense of worth. They saw they could accomplish things, as individuals and collectively. They experienced that someone believed in them, cared about them and wanted to teach them and spend TIME with them. This is huge!
I know some of these boys have since gone on to do great things. Go to university, become realtors, lawyers and teachers-role models and people of influence. I had the honour of assisting a kid (now man), buy his first home this past summer. Some have likely ended up in prison too, but I know I helped turn some in the right direction. I maybe, just maybe, helped to save a few.
I know the power of time first hand-I know it is the greatest gift you can give. So, why not give it to your own kids, your nieces and nephews-your loved ones?
Instead of new Barbies, a Lego set, or a new high end coat-plan a family day hike in the mountains. Actually go, pack a lunch. Make a memory and use the experience to teach about nature. The questions of discovery that come from kids will be more than worth it.
Take your nephew skating all winter-pick him up, get him on the outdoor rink. Plan a weekly bike ride with your niece-each week try a new route for new adventures. Cook with your mom (someone better learn her recipes!)
Go fishing with your dad-or work on his car. Set aside time with your spouse, even a glass of wine once the kids are asleep-that is a set meeting-that you cannot skip (because you have too many more important things to do). Plan an exercise get together with your friends, where you try something new-like yoga, or spin class.
For my family, we make sure the holiday season is filled with outdoor fun. A skate night at Olympic Plaza, or sled races on the toboggan bowl in Bridgeland are worth far more than any wrapped gift.
Just give a time commitment and stick to it. A few less gifts under the tree will not ruin Christmas-it just might make it better. If time is money-set the spending limits high this year.