We all know the deal with Santa, right? You be good, Santa keeps score, and you get some nice elf-made Christmas presents if you “make the cut”.
But let’s be real for a minute.
For many families – particularly Western families – it’s been forever since Santa brought the handmade dolls and simple toys we always see in the old Christmas specials. Santa isn’t just dropping one or two things under the tree; it’s a big pile. And the elves at the North Pole are now hard at work manufacturing Xbox consoles, battery-powered laser toys, and fancy kid-sized vehicles. Christmas has gotten bigger and bigger over time, and many kids’ toys could almost take up a whole room of their own. If the North Pole were a country, the size of its economy would rival that of the United States.
And every year, things keep on coming. Which fills your house with stuff. And that causes stress.
It’s tempting to start making phone calls to friends & relatives, begging them to just “stop giving the kids so much stuff”. Telling them “no, really, we don’t need anything this year.” And if that’s your jam, that’s totally cool. More power to you if you can get your family and friends to cooperate!
If that doesn’t make sense to you though, let us give you another option.
Sit your kids down, and explain something like this. “Santa is going to drop off a bunch of presents this year. But with all the kids in the world, the elves are having a hard time keeping up. So Santa is asking if you have any old toys that you don’t play with anymore that you can share.” Explain that the Santa can take the old toys and find homes for them with other kids who will appreciate them, and that by giving the toys to Santa they’ll be helping other kids who otherwise might not have as nice of a Christmas.
Or if you’re one of those families that doesn’t do the “Santa” thing, explain that this is the time of year when we think about everything we’re thankful for, and we share things with other kids who are less fortunate than us.
Either way, all you have to do is grab a regular kitchen-sized garbage bag, hand it to your kids, and encourage them to find toys they don’t play with anymore. Fill the bag, set it under the tree, and either let “Santa” pick it up, or take your kids with you to the local Goodwill / Salvation Army / women’s shelter and drop it off.
In many ways, this is better than just swearing off Christmas gifts entirely. Kids’ interests and tastes change somewhat frequently, and for most kids that means they should be clearing out some old stuff to make room for other things and interests each year. Christmas is as good a time as any to do that.
It also prepares them for adulthood. The habits and skills we learn as kids follow us as we grow, and this is a great habit to instill. Teach your kids that at least once a year, you honestly assess all of your stuff. Then gather up the stuff that you don’t love anymore, and share it with other people who will appreciate it. You can even model this for your kids as well (it’ll work even better if you do) by going through some of your stuff to include in the bag of stuff for Santa!
This year, we hope you sincerely enjoy the blessings you’ve received – and we hope that in some way, you find an opportunity to share those blessings with others. Have a fabulous, clutter-free Christmas!