On the news today, I read that the average American household has about $15,000 of credit card debt. To add to that over the holidays just does not make sense. Obviously children expect gifts under the tree, so I am not advocating that we cut out presents for children, but we can certainly start to set appropriate expectations for them and our other loved ones, with just a few gifts and emphasizing other ways that we can express our love and gratitude for one another.

According to  Dr. Chapman, author of “5 Love Languages,” there are 4 other ways besides gifts that we can use to express love: (1) Quality Time; (2) Touch; (3) Words of Affirmation; and (4) Acts of Kindness. What is best about all these other ways of expressing love– no one can take them away from you. Unlike gifts, which can get lost or are easily forgotten over time, the other methods for expressing affection can last a lifetime.

As parents, I think the sooner we can start teaching our kids about holidays being more about spending time with family, and less about the gifts, the better we prepare them for healthy adult lives. Let’s face it, rarely will anyone be better able pick something out for you than your own self. Everyone has their own taste, style, and preferences, and as a result gift-giving occassions are always full of stress and often disappointment. Therefore, the sooner our children can learn that it really is not about the gift but the thought that counts, the less stressed out they will be during special occassions and the more apt to just enjoy themselves.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.