As the holiday season approaches, along with it comes many things: family gathering, joy, gratitude, travel, expenses, debt. Approaching the season from the mindset of gratitude, instead of consumerism, can help us and our families enjoy the holiday season while keeping our finances in check.
Last year, my growing family and I started a tradition we call “The Gratitude Jar”. It’s just that – a jar filled with written down things we are thankful for, on each given day in November. We started the tradition with our (at the time) almost 3 year old who didn’t quite get it, but it ended up being incredibly beneficial for my husband and I and is a tradition we will continue for decades to come.
Instead of focusing on the consumerism of the holidays – big dinners, gifts for everyone – we tried to focus the month of November on what we already have. By focusing on our daily lives and how thankful we were for the every day things, it engrained in our hearts and minds that while there may still be a “want” lurking in our minds, everything that really matters, we already have. Each day, usually at dinnertime (sometimes after, because…life) we sat down together and wrote down something we were GRATEFUL for that day. We didn’t share them in the moment, and our (almost) 3 year old didn’t usually participate (though he’s excited to this year!). Thanksgiving evening, after family craziness died down, my husband and I read each sheet of paper together and cried, knowing our lives were (and still are) so full.
Moving into the month of December with our words of gratitude still floating around in our heads, it seemed to dissolve much of the consumerism that surrounds the holidays. We started the tradition to break the norm – to make the season more about family, less about gifts. We started the tradition to keep within our extremely tight budget, as newer parents and a one family income. We started the tradition to show our children that this time of year is about sharing and caring, not gifts and money. We will continue the tradition because it’s a lovely, free, and inclusive way to bring our family together in the midst of a bustling time of year.
Contributed by Prosperity Connection Financial Coach, Camille Branch