The Gift of Time

Running away FOR the holidays. Running away FROM the holidays. Skipping the holidays. The concept is not one of disrespect for the celebration of the religious holidays at this time of the year. The concept is one of getting away from the stress and pressure of things that our holiday celebrations can sometimes turn into.

Several years ago, we had a situation in our family that brought this concept home to us. As a struggling family on a budget, much effort was put into finding "good buys" and the right gifts for our young family. Many hours of shopping and bargain hunting turned into a pile of unwrapped gifts left in the middle of the room by our young children for us to pick up. They very much enjoyed unwrapping the presents but in the end, they had just received a bunch of "stuff" that they would add to all the other "stuff" in their rooms. My wife and I were a little angry, we were tired, but mostly concerned of what the holidays had turned into for our family. After some thought and discussion we made the decision to run away for the holidays next year. A budget was put in place and plans were made.

In the end, the holiday that we "ran away" is one of the most memorable and enjoyable times that we have ever had. Looking back it wasn't the location (although being in a warm climate didn't hurt). But it was the time we spend together. We saw movies, we put puzzles together, we went on walks, we played in the swimming pool and we went to the zoo. The kids loved it. They didn't miss the gifts. It really was a gift of time together that we gave the family. There wasn't the rush to get all the shopping done or the entire cleanup afterwards. We just enjoyed one another's company. Not to mention, it was a true "intermission" for Mom and Dad.

So, an idea is proposed. Even if you don't go away for the holidays, consider not giving your friends and family presents that will be tucked away in a closet or broken in a few days. Consider giving the gift of time. Drive around town and look at Christmas lights, buy a puzzle and work on it together while watching movies, get out old board games and play them together. Give out coupons for going to the recreation center and swimming, seeing a dollar movie, walking downtown and window shopping. It doesn't need to be as drastic as leaving town for a vacation.

It seems like we live in a world where most basic needs are met. But what some families and relationships really hunger for is time together. Consider cutting out some of the hustle and bustle and giving a more valuable gift this year-the gift of your time.

Jones Loflin