According to Fox News, a staggering staggering $16 billion was wasted on unwanted gifts this year! Based on research data, almost 20% of gifts are never used by the recipient and 4% are immediately thrown into the trash!
It seems so harsh to say that these thoughtful gestures of love and kindness are unwanted, but the fact is most of us already have more than we need- just looking at our overstuffed closets, basements, toy rooms and garages. And when a need arises, we can order from Amazon or run to a store. Gone are the days of waiting patiently for Christmas for a new pair of shoes or box of pencils.
Research shows that the stress of shopping, commercial pressure and overspending are a major source of stress. Adding to this is the disappointment of extremely high expectations, debt and the burden of post Christmas clutter and we really have lost the season of peace, our focus on goodwill to all and awe at the ultimate display of generosity.
I’m not saying we should do away with gifts altogether, gifts are so lovely to receive and a joy to give! But it would be wonderful to return to the approach of giving gifts to those who really need them most and saving small token gifts of experiences, time or useful gifts for each other.
It seems important also to reflect on the meaning and value of Christmas at this time; teaching our children the essence of this season, setting appropriate expectations, having them involved in giving and serving. This helps avoid the disappointment of really high expectations and build generosity and other character traits we aim for our children to embody.
We know that more things don’t bring happiness, on Christmas Day or the following months. As the toys are already less interesting, or even remain unplayed with, it is a great time to start family conversations like - “I’ve noticed you like this toy best of all and haven’t played with that one, shall we give that one to a child who might not have received anything this Christmas?” Or “How would if feel to pass of these things that you got that don’t fit or you don’t like that much!”. You can also lead by example showing them how you have gracefully received gifts and can also lovingly share your abundance with others.
These lovely days between Christmas and New Years are a great time to reflect on and appreciate the love received and the abundance you already have and tackle those appreciated but unwanted gifts now, before clutter overwhelms you!