As the year comes to a close, 2018 has quickly flown by, I can’t believe that somehow holiday season is upon us again! Now that Black Friday has just passed, it really got me thinking about what the main focus of the holidays have unfortunately become – instead of what they should really be about. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I was on assignment this year instead of with family. Being away from home and out and about gave me time to observe and experience what the holidays mean to others.

MdTjwJtURiizMpv5MfNhrg“Why is Thanksgiving my favorite holiday?” I often ask myself, while I almost dread Christmas in comparison. I truly feel it is because of how the holidays have transformed into shopping and sales. The focus of Thanksgiving is not about material items and gift exchanging but rather gobbling down tasty food and spending time with family and friends while really focusing on what we’re thankful for. So basically the perfect holiday for me, no shopping… more eating! So I thought I might spread some inspiration and share my holiday ideas on how I attempt to keep my mind focused on what matters rather than such material pursuits that society has required us to do.

1. Re-think gift giving. Not to sound like a total grinch but for me it’s time to rethink the tradition of gift giving. Instead of spending hundreds on new gadgets/toys, give experiences –  I’m wanting to go out and purchase an experience for the whole family (Art museum, Science center, Zoo). Memories of it will be remembered more fondly than the toy that got pushed to the side, 5 minutes after unwrapping. I think the Grinch spoke some truth when he thought, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more” – Dr. Suess

2. Family vacation. Use the money that you would have budgeted for purchasing gifts for your family and put it towards a trip to somewhere you’ve wanted to go as a family together. If the budget just can’t make that work then you can always explore your own town, one of the best ways to get out in nature together and experience something new. Go for a hike and breathe some fresh air because we all know we could use some time with nature as often as we can. Kollin’s sister came to visit for Thanksgiving and our favorite activities were hiking different trails in Austin!


3. Learn something together. Learning new things has a huge impact on developing your knowledge base and improving yourself for the better. Learning across our lives is essential for staying up to date in an ever-changing world. If we stop learning new things, we can stagnate and actually move backwards. So what better occasion than the holidays to learn something new together, you might even have fun doing it! Some fun suggestions could be stand up paddle boarding, cooking class, baking cookies, pottery class, painting, or even woodworking

4. Be present. We all love the latest and greatest. Especially all of the I-things and flying things – but instead of gifting the newest gadgets, try for items that may bring everyone together during the holidays. Kollin is always talking about wanting to play chess, so I am considering a nice (travel friendly), chess set that we can play together instead of maybe binge watching that next Netflix series. It’s very important to me that, while visiting with family, we actually spend quality time rather than screen time. Actually engaging with each other, whether it is a significant other, family, or friends, it is rewarding to learn new things and discuss ideas to strengthen relationships. This will create a better connection between family than any WiFi connection.


5. Alternative gift giving. I know it’s tough to break traditions and give zero gifts especially when children are involved so I really like that Kollin’s family does secret Santa every year. It allows some fun of giving gifts to each-other while the main focus is off of buying and opening mounds of presents during Christmas (it also doesn’t hurt that their gatherings are more about the food than gifts hahah). I also love white elephant gift giving because it adds a little fun to opening gifts and gets everyone engaged and involved and always gives some awesome laughs all around!

This is certainly a year of change for me and I hope you all have a great holiday season and keep in mind that what makes this time of year so special is time with family, not retail store clerks.

“It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters but who’s around it” -Charlie Brown