I write this from the back porch of a surf school in Montezuma, Costa Rica. Our family is surfing this
Christmas. A few years ago, my husband and I decided to do more activities with our kids vs the buying
of “stuff”. Do not misunderstand me, our kids still had a few presents from us under the tree before we
left, but not like it once was. The main present was the experience and the trip we are on.

We are here at with two other families from a completely
different part of the Country and for a week we are a giant unit. The staff is from all over the world and
tonight, we will have a Costa Rican Christmas Dinner. I am not really certain what that will mean food
wise, but I know my kids will be in wet bathing suits right until it is time to sit down. One of the other
tween girls is an accomplished musician, and she brought her violin with her for the trip.

Two things had preceded this decision
1) Witnessing the huge amount of stuff my kids were getting each birthday and Christmas from our
families, their friends and the two of us. It was nauseating. My kids couldn’t even remember what
they got when they turned a certain age, but they could always remember the trips into Manhattan to
see a play, scavenger hunts or other fun activities surrounding Christmas
2) I had read an article about how much happier people were when they focused on experiences vs
material things. For example, a trip for a big promotion at work vs. a sports car. After a week or two
the Maserati becomes routine while going to Patagonia was a game changer.

Our house was decorated when we left, and I hosted TWO, count them two different Christmas cookie
parties, one for each child. So they had plenty of Holiday cheer. We brought stockings with us for
Christmas morning, and it will be filled with Costa Rican treasures I found at the airport and a few small
things from home. For the most part, the obsession with stuff is over. My kids are not deprived by any
means but their Holiday list of demands has gotten much smaller and it has taken much of the stress of off
my shoulders leading up to the big event.

Today, they are out surfing, I am back at the camp nursing sore ribs. I got smacked with a board
yesterday, but I am going back out tomorrow. My kids are able to see me get a little bruised but get back
up. They are both getting considerably better at surfing than they were even three days ago, something
else they would have never witnessed if we were at home in a sea of sugar cookies, wrapping paper and
The Christmas Story on repeat.

It has been a wonderful experience, and one they would never have been able to take if my husband and I
didn’t ask if there wasn’t a better way than to stick to the original model. Of course, there has been some
pushback from relatives, well-meaning and annoying acquaintances and even the kids. In the end, I
know we did the right thing, as my kids are not focused on what they got but what we did.



Tomorrow’s Topic: Boxing Day

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *