Positive Experiences Don’t Need a Hefty Price Tag

When I think of the holidays, I think of jingle bells, Christmas carols, warm fires, and the smell of evergreen trees. I believe in the cliché: It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But instead of creating positive experiences, some people get bogged down by stress during the holiday season. You may worry about buying a lot of gifts on a small budget or how your whole family is going to get along on Christmas morning. When I get overwhelmed by these kinds of thoughts, a look back at my childhood helps me remember the true joy of the holidays.

Ever since I can remember, we’ve headed to my grandparents’ house on Christmas Day. It’s a joyous gathering with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins. More than 20 people fill the living room with gifts and cheer. When I was a child, my grandparents planned special surprises for us. One year they built us a tunnel fort out of more than 30 cardboard boxes in the bottom of their barn. We also went on scavenger hunts and screamed with excitement at each clue. It wasn’t about the presents, but about the experience. Looking back, these are some of my favorite childhood memories.

These thoughts are what I cherish when I feel overwhelmed by all the advertisements and television commercials showcasing this holiday season’s must-have toys and gadgets. The memories of my family help me continue to realize that it’s not about buying the latest and greatest. Of course I remember some of my favorite toys, but the moments I treasure the most are experiences I’ve had with my family and friends.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to create positive experiences. This year for Christmas, my extended family decided to hold a do-it-yourself gift exchange. This is a great way to avoid the purchase-heavy mentality of the holidays, and I can’t wait to see all the beautiful creations that my family comes up with. We won’t be spending a lot of money, but I know we’ll be creating wonderful memories.

Don’t stress yourself out this holiday season! Relax, enjoy family and friends, and focus on the simple, joyful moments.

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