More memories, less stuff this holiday season


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Here we are, it’s December already. How’d we get here so fast and how did it get so busy?

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Here we are, it’s December already. How’d we get here so fast and how did it get so busy?

I feel like the pages in my day planner (yes, I still use a paper day planner) have filled up with scribbles and notes of what is already outlined as a very busy month.

School holiday concerts are on the horizon. (This will be the first time I get to see my daughter’s concert live in a school gymnasium, due to past COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. I am so excited I could cry.) There are plenty of festive lunches, gatherings and meetings sprinkled in with the day-to-day grind of a busy and blessed life.

One day, you’ll look back and wish for the chaos, they say.

I know. I often remind myself of this: stand in the chaos. Dance in it with the kids. Easier said than done some days, but I try.

Anyway, as the holiday looms, I am becoming increasingly flustered with buying gifts. It’s the little things — stocking stuffers — that really get me. I have this bad habit of wandering around different stores or perusing the internet and buying junk.

I never mean to buy junk, and frankly I can’t afford to buy junk. I’m not talking about the sought-after Christmas gifts. No, it is the filler stuff nobody asked for.

I tell myself I will be thoughtful with little extras that go in the stockings, but lo and behold, on Christmas morning, when the kids have finished opening their gifts, I usually see items amongst their stuff that were an impulse buy. Stuff that’ll probably end up in a landfill or on the shelves of a thrift store before next Christmas.

Pretty, wasteful stuff.

I panic shop during the holidays. It’s a terrible habit. One that I’m trying extra hard to break. Because not only do my kids not need it… my house, credit card bill and the landfill don’t either.

This year, even though we are so busy, I feel like the best gift we can give ourselves is the gift of time and experiences, especially now that life seems to have moved back into that busy place it was before the pandemic.

Those are the gifts that will actually last.

I remember one winter night when I was about four or five years old. It was snowing, and for some reason my parents bundled us up to play outside. Big fat snowflakes fell against the night sky and on this evening that is now a core memory etched into my brain and heart, they came outside to play with us.

I don’t mean they came outside to watch us play. No, they got right into it. We took turns jumping off the big wooden fence in our backyard into piles of soft, fluffy snow. I remember my mom jokingly putting snow down the back of my dad’s jacket and my dad howling with laughter.

All of us filled that quiet winter night with our laughter and screams of joy. I’m not sure I ever saw my parents laugh like that before. It was like a moment out of a TV show.

Dad started up his little hibachi barbecue as a sort of bonfire, to keep warm, and when we were done we walked over to the old Salisbury House that used to be a fixture in the Tuxedo Park Shopping Centre. We drank hot chocolate and laughed some more. It was a real special night. “An A+ day,” my older sister wrote in her journal.

Funny enough, I don’t remember any of the little trinkets I got in my stocking, but I sure remember that little piece of time, playing in the snow with my family.

This year, I’m going to try and spend less time worrying about not having enough stuff and work hard on making sure we have enough experiences with each other.

Twitter: @ShelleyACook

Shelley Cook

Shelley Cook
Columnist, Manager of Reader Bridge project

Shelley is a born and raised Winnipegger. She is a proud member of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.

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