I recently watched a video that’s circulating around the internet, and its message has really stayed with me.
It’s an IKEA of Spain advertisement that starts with the words, “Why do we insist on not giving our children the gifts they really want for Christmas?”
Right away, I was pulled in. The ad goes on to show an experiment with 10 families where the children are asked to write a letter to the Three Kings (Santa Claus equivalent) with what they’d like for presents. The usual suspects are listed: games, electronics, etc.
The children are asked to write another letter — to their parents — with what they want for Christmas from them. At first, the children are puzzled by the request, but after much thought, the answers come: “spend more time with me,” “pay more attention to me,” “to do experiments at home,” “have dinner with us more often,” “tickle me,” and “read me a story.”
The real powerful moment comes at the end when the children are asked, “If you could only send one letter, which would you send?” Again, after much thought, the children choose the letter to their parents.
The video got me thinking about this whole notion of Santa Claus, and teaching kids that if they’re “good”, Santa will bring them lots of presents. That part doesn’t seem so terrible. I know a lot of parents rely on that leverage to keep their sanity! But what if the promised “presents” were experiences instead of things?
Not having children, it’ll be easy for you to negate my suggestion with a “She doesn’t understand.” But I challenge you to dig below that resistance and ask yourself — am I giving my children what they really want?
To dip your toe in the water this year, consider changing out just one gift for an experience. Instead of another electronic device for your daughter, what about a coupon for a hike together or a pedicure? Or instead of another action figure, take your son to see a movie, play, or musical.
If, next year, you were to ask your kids what they got for Christmas this year, I guarantee they’d remember the time spent with you and would struggle to recall a single toy or item.
Kids spell love, T-I-M-E. So be radical; be a spiritual pioneer. Challenge the status quo and give your kids what they really want this year — YOU.
Check out the IKEA ad below, aptly titled “The Other Letter”:
What do you think about this idea? What recommendations do you have to help people collect experiences instead of things? Chat with me in the comments below.
Until next week, keep taking those steps to Live Out Loud.