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No Christmas Gifts Under the Tree

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All across the world on Christmas Day children woke up excited that Santa had slid down their chimnies and left presents for them under the tree. In haste, they ran down the stairs in anticipation of what they might find.

Could it be the bike they had always wanted, the game or toy they saw at the store and wrote Santa about?

This was not so in my home.

First of all, my babies are too young to understand the concept of Christmas and Santa or gifts. Secondly, I am not a big believer in giving gifts for Christmas.

Too Young and Currently Content

My boys, Hodari and Milambu, are currently 9 months old. They are still new to this world and all they are concerned with is having full bellies, a warm bed to sleep on, and lots of love! All of which I love giving daily.

I envy this stage in their lives. I envy their want for nothing but the basics. Nothing but the essentials needed to survive and thrive. Or whatever lays around that may spark their curiosity and please their taste buds.

Adulting is sometimes made difficult by the desires we harbor for material possessions. These make the holidays such a stressful time because we are all anticipating gifts from others or frantically searching for last-minute gifts for others.

Using up credit cards and money that was meant for emergencies to put smiles on the ones we love.

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Luckily this year I didn’t have to worry about gifting my babies and just had to make sure that they had a roof over their head, a bed under their body, and food in their bellies.

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Christmas is More Than Just a Gifting Season

I grew up in Kenya, Africa where we did not associate Christmas with gifts or Santa (during the time I was there we didn’t, things have changed now).

Christmas in Kenya was all about God and remembering His son who was born on this day and also celebrating my birthday (I was born on Dec 24th). When the 25th of December rolled around, we woke up excited about the day. We got dressed in our Christmas outfits and went to church in the morning.

We would usually go to church and then come back so as to celebrate the day.

I never knew or heard of Santa. I didn’t know anything about Christmas trees and gift-giving. All I knew was that it was Jesus’s birthday and mine as well.

Our family would come together for the celebrations and we would eat Chicken and other Kenyan delicacies, fellowship together, and then disperse.

It was only when we moved here in 2007 that I started hearing about this Santa guy. At the time, I was 14 and my siblings we younger but we still did not associate Christmas with Santa in our house.

My parents have never been the gift-giving kind.

People always tell me “wow, your birthday is Dec 24, you must get twice the presents!” And I just look at them and say nope… not even close! Haha…

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Birthdays and Christmas were never gift-giving occasions in my family. It was always a time to get together and fellowship together. My parents would give us cards (no money inside, unfortunately) with a candy bar (don’t laugh).

And that was it. No elaborate gifts, just those two items. I have grown to hate cards because of this (sorry dad! Still love you!)

That is why I never associated gifts with Christmas. Or even birthdays.

I have grown to appreciate experiences and fellowship with my family more than a gift I can probably buy myself.

Creating New Traditions

As a new mom, I have wondered if I would introduce the concept of Santa and gift-giving to my boys.

I don’t want them to grow up believing that they deserve gifts during Christmas just because. I want them to have an appreciation of experiences more than possessions. Furthermore, I don’t want them to think that all their wishes will come true if only they are nice and write to Santa.

Since I want to form experiences with them and I want Christmas to be more than just a gift-giving season, here are some traditions I will be incorporating as they grow:

  1. Volunteering at the Shelter on Christmas Eve
  2. Taking vacation trips together
  3. Putting together gifts and giving them to the homeless
  4. Remembering the true reason for this season

Would love to hear about your Christmas traditions, let me know in the comments!

However you decide to celebrate this season, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


  1. I love hearing how people celebrate holidays. It is so important to make memories and enjoy the moment. Gifts are nice but I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older I’d rather have the warm memories.

  2. I bought loads of gifts. I also gave lots of homeless. Well done on your first blog. I wish I did not get sucked in by Christmas

  3. This is a good reminder! We don’t do Santa but do some gifts. My 9 yr old daughter decided to do secret sibling this year with her 4 little brothers and had them draw names and they have been putting little treats/hand me down toys in each others stockings for the past couple of weeks. I brought them to the $1 store and let them pick out something special for their person and they wrapped them and put them in their stocking… they haven’t opened them yet. It has been really fun though! I’ve been throwing a few things in randomly here and there.

  4. This is great! Christmas was never about how many gifts are given or received but about celebrating the perfect Giver. The memories you create with your family is what will be remembered most at the end of the day and throughout the years.

  5. Great post! This year my daughters are 4.5, 3.5, 2 and 8 months but this is the first year we actually did bigger gifts (a dollhouse for them to share and STEM toys). The last 4 years we did very small token gifts and took a vacation. We still hear about how much my oldest loved seeing snow and drinking hot chocolate than any toy she has received. While we can afford to do a big, entitled Christmas we choose not to. We give our children the gift of time and experiences! I look forward to seeing your blog grow! 🙂

  6. I usually buy my son 3-5 gifts for Christmas. I grew up receiving gifts for Christmas and enjoy sharing that tradition with my son. The gifts that he receives are generally related to things he enjoys learning about or playing with.

  7. Sorry, but Christmas just wouldn’t seem the same without the gifts under the tree. Although what I saw you say about instilling in your children about giving themselves to help others is great.
    I do believe some people place themselves in bad positions by going overboard this time of year with spending, which of course leads to much unwanted and unneeded anxiety and stress.

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