Presence May Be More Valuable Than Presents This Holiday Season
The holiday season is here! Have you finalized your plans yet? Made gift lists? Started to budget?
Before you go hog wild on spending — or spiral as you panic over how in the world you’ll afford everything — take a pause and ask yourself:
Could this be a great year to offer your loved ones the gift of presence rather than mere presents?
If you are fortunate enough to have an ample gift budget, maybe this is the year to give more to charity and give one another the gift of attention instead.
What We Really Want Right Now Is Genuine Human Connection
For some families, one of the arguably good things about the pandemic is how much time it has forced us to spend together.
We’re stuck in our homes. We have to keep our “bubble” small. It’s the perfect situation to enable us to get closer and feel more connected.
How much of that time are you really spending with your loved ones?
Those of us fortunate enough to have jobs still have to work. Kids have to “go” to school — even if that means going to their computers. And the stress of everything has led many of us to spend way more time on devices overall.
We escape to our phones. To video games. To Netflix and YouTube. To doomscrolling the news.
But this “escape” is often a mirage. Because it cannot replace actual interaction with other human beings.
So we feel even more stressed out. More distracted. And less able to pay attention to our partners and children when they need us most.
To be clear, this is not meant to be an indictment of relaxing screen time restrictions in order to get through these tough times. We’re all struggling. And if extra screen time helps sometimes, forgive yourself.
But we’re entering a holiday period where the traditional instinct is to load up on gifts that often serve to exacerbate this problem. Video games. A new TV or computer. Even books can serve to put people further into their own silos.
A solution to consider: prioritize presence over presents.
Ways That You Can Prioritize Presence over Presents
Here are just a few ideas:
- Do holiday baking together
- Play in-person board games or card games
- Make decorations as a family
- Return to eating meals together
- Go for daily family hikes or bike rides
- Sing carols together
- Complete a challenging puzzle as a family
- Dance around the kitchen to your favorite songs
- Snowshoe or cross-country ski
- Cut your own Christmas tree (you can get a tree cutting permit in Oregon)
- Sled, toboggan, or inner-tube down a nearby hill
If you’re finding it hard to maintain screen time limits, consider a different approach.
Instead of setting goals for less screen time, set goals for spending more time on other activities, such as being outdoors and playing together.
Humans find it easier to achieve positive goals (do this) instead of negative goals (don’t do this). So this approach is more likely to be successful and lead to a happier holiday experience together.
Still Want to Have Some Presents under the Tree?
Focus on gifts that lead to activities you can do together.
For families with children, that could be board and card games, sports equipment, puzzles, or art projects you can do together.
For couples, focus on gifts that encourage you to spend time with each other. Recipes or a meal service with a promise to cook together. Massage oils. New walking shoes for both of you.
With a bit of careful planning, the holidays can be the perfect time to cut back on virtual and return to in-person — at least in your household.
Online Therapy Sessions: Get Help Now
Both Tim and Norene have been offering online couple’s sessions for years. Rest assured, we’re experts at helping you set things up on your end.
It will be some time before you can safely attend in-person sessions, so we have created a system that will help you now. Not months from now when things in your relationship have exploded.
If you need individual help with anxiety or depression during this time, we can help with that, too.