Every year, we get bombarded.
Professional marketing firms are allowed to use all sorts of psychological data and research to figure out how to entice kids to beg their parents and grandparents for the latest “must have” gift that will likely be forgotten about (or broken) by the time we ring in the New Year.
Americans and Canadians who have, for all intents and purposes, won life’s lottery when it comes to “places to live that are free” scurry hither and yon buying “stuff” to give away and never actually think about giving the gift of time instead of the gift of clutter.
And everywhere you look, there is a very real sense that the things you DO have – that you choose to buy and enjoy – is somehow not as good as a newer version of that same thing.
I get it – durable goods wear out, people gain weight or lose weight, and nearly everything has a useful life, be it a washing machine, She Who Must Be Obeyed’s car, or your boots.
What I don’t get, and never have, is why, at this time of year, we allow ourselves to make excuses to buy garbage. If you are old enough to read this, then you are probably old enough to remember that the time you spent with your father, or grandfather, or even quiet moments with your significant other are so much more important, as the years go by, than another piece of lingerie, or a bracelet, or, for you, another Harley t-shirt or a set of bags.
How much would you give to watch your kids run downstairs when they were truly young and look for the items that Santa brought? When most of us had kids, we also didn’t have much of a “kid budget” but we still made it work. We pulled some extra shifts, we put stuff on layaway, or we simply did without.
I well remember wondering why my Dad never seemed to have the same number of presents as me or my mom, but still had such a big smile on his face as I tore into the gifts Santa had left for me.
I remember my Grandmother happily telling me how happy she was that Santa had arrived by 3:30 Christmas morning, but that we wouldn’t be opening the packages he had left until everyone else had awoken in 3 or 4 hours. Funny thing, I don’t remember what I got from Santa that year, but I remember those words my Granny spoke as if she was here beside me.
Stuff. Likely, we have too much of it. Sometimes we need to buy it and sometimes we get caught up in it. My wish for you this Christmas?
I hope you have every penny you need to provide your family and friends the things they want and I earnestly hope that in doing that, you are able to spend the time with each of them that you both deserve. Case in point? At Thanksgiving this year, we were able to get both sets of inlaws to join us for the day. As we went around the table to reflect on what we were most thankful for, my Dad said simply, “the time.”
As I thought about that later that night when all the house was asleep, I realized that the best gifts I was ever given as a kid were never things, they were time. The sounds and smells of a home filled with love and appreciation for what the Christmas season means for so many – NOT a chance to go further into debt.
Plenty of people have wondered why, as a successful business man in the prime of my life I would choose to drive an old bike that isn’t a “classic” and the answer is, I don’t need it. The freedom and memories that I’ve created with friends over the years riding and wrenching on bikes far outweighs anything that I could buy from a dealership.
My wish for you – and for all of us – is that you are able to come to a place where time is the most valuable commodity you own, not just the size of your bank account.