Maybe Christmas… Doesn’t Come From a Store!

by Mark Timm, CEO Ziglar Family

Have you been sucked in to the retail craziness that started with the Black Friday sales, then Cyber Monday, then Small Business Saturday… and pretty much continues as a constant drip of ads all day, every day at this time of year?

I’m here to tell you that you really don’t have to get on board that crazy train. 

Ok, I know… with kids, some retail is always going to be involved.  But the over-the-top, materialistic frenzy that has started to become Christmas morning is definitely not the scene I want at my house, and I’m betting you agree. 

Even Dr. Seuss’s Grinch figured it out: “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from the store.  Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

When my wife, Ann, and I were married, and our beautiful blended family came together, we made the decision to really downplay the retail side of Christmas, and instead create something far more meaningful.

For example, each year we change the rules for holiday gift giving.   Some years you have to make every gift you give.  That’s hard, for sure, but everyone gets super creative, and we all agree that it is so rewarding.

One year we gave the kids a strict budget, and they could not spend more than a certain amount on each sibling.  This really helped them understand that it is not the amount of the gift, but the thought behind it.  

Another year, the gift had to match each person’s Love Language, based on the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.   For the sister whose love language was acts of service, one gift was a coupon for her chores to be done by her sibling.  Or her brother, whose love language was words of affirmation, received a meaningful letter and a poem.  The child who values quality time received a coupon to spend time watching a favorite movie together.   

Ironically, this was the least amount of money we ever spent on Christmas, but took the most time to get through, and was the most meaningful— in fact, they still talk about it.

If you’ve seen my daughter, Grace, and me on our Sunday night Facebook Live broadcasts, you’ve likely heard one of our favorite sayings:  Love, to a child, is spelled T-I-M-E. The gift of your time to your children, at Christmas time and all year long, doesn’t cost a cent, but means so much more than anything you could possibly purchase at the mall. 

With that in mind, my wife, Ann, and I always try to give our kids an experience over the holidays.  It’s something they would maybe never choose to do, but that they are open to doing when we spend time together as a family. This year we brought them to a holiday Christmas concert featuring some of our family’s favorite music artists.

A couple of years ago we took them out to a nice dinner and had them each make a New Year’s resolution that we, as a family, could support them on through the coming year. 

Another year it was again a special dinner out, but we spent the evening discussing the one thing each of us like most about our family; it was really great stuff!

We also spend time together right at home:  stringing popcorn for the tree, watching Hallmark Christmas movies, baking and decorating cookies, or —if we get a white Christmas—having some fun and friendly snowman building competitions.

If you’ve been in the retail frenzy, and are starting to feel a little like Scrooge in these last few days before Christmas, it’s time to push pause and look for some ways to simplify the season. 

Maybe some of my family’s practices will resonate with you, or maybe you have some great ideas of your own.  But if you keep in mind that it’s not about how much money you spend on them, but how much time you spend with them, you’re likely to feel less Bah-Humbug, and more God Bless Us, Every One!

Merry Christmas!



  1. Nancy December 23, 2016 at 8:10 am - Reply


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