I realize that there are benefits to ignoring the financial stress during the holidays. I know that the season isn’t really about my daughter’s new Lalaloopsy playhouse. But at the same time, I think it’s kind of disingenuous to act like those presents have no meaning at all.
This year, I bought my sister a large, antique bike. It has a huge front wheel, a miniature seat, and a small back wheel for balance. It’s all wire and no one could ever ride it. What’s so important about this little decorative bike? Well, when my sister and I were little, our aunt had an extremely similar little bike hanging on a wall in her home. My sister thought it was the coolest thing. When we were teenagers, our aunt moved and sold the bike, along with most of her decor. (She was moving from an enormous house in Michigan to an Upper East Side condo.)
For years, my sister has wanted a bike like our Aunt’s. She has told our Aunt time and time again that she can’t believe she sold that bike. When I bought this gift, I was literally bursting with excitement. I called my Aunt and my mom and my dad and my husband. I told them all about my amazing find. I am thrilled to be able to give my sister this bike to hang in her new home. This gift means a lot more than the money I spent on it.
It’s easy to show the meaning in a present like that. Some people like to point out that it’s the gift cards, or random presents you pick up because you can’t think of anything else, that really push the holiday materialism to an insane level. But even those gift cards serve a purpose.
Just yesterday I bought a gift card for my daughter’s gymnastics teacher. It’s a simple, inexpensive little thing to throw in her holiday card. But I’m happy to do something nice for her. This intensely patient woman has inspired my daughter and taught her to truly love a sport. I want to give her a small token of our appreciation for all the times that she convinced my nervous little girl to flip over those uneven bars.