Christmas means something different to everyone, but every time decorations get unboxed and they start lining the department store shelves in September, or even earlier in late August, I am torn between excitement and disgust. Excitement, because in recent years, we have as a family, really discovered the joy of spending time together doing something we all love. But the disgust with the commercialism and the loss of what Christmas should mean always hits me. I'm not loving the inundation of toy catalogues, the massive expense of all those toys, the relentless nagging from kids about what they really think they 'must' have, the pressure of just how much should be spent on each person, and all the warnings from the financial advisers about not ending up with a massive credit card debt in January. Is all this spending really in the spirit of Christmas?
In the past when our kids were small, we'd have ridiculous piles of presents under the tree for each child, and Christmas day itself was actually quite embarrassing to watch the grandparents faces as our children just kept unwrapping and unwrapping more and more all day long. It was so obvious that the number of presents was insane. There is no other word for it. We had to make a change. And that change we found a few years ago.
The change for us is being in Sun Peaks in Canada. We have been going to ski since our youngest was 5, not every year, but in the past few years, I have to admit, we have been going for Christmas every year. When we first made the trip we made sure our kids knew 'this trip is Christmas'. The holiday is our gift. We no longer do multiple presents and no-one misses them, no-one expects them. We have our family holiday, we have each other and we are much happier with the simplicity than we ever were with all the multitude of presents. Santa still visits of course, with just one small gift for each of our kids, but we always take a new big jigsaw puzzle as a family present. Another thing we can work on together.
I tell you, kids don't need the commercialism that we're sold here in Australia. And I'm sure you don't have to go to Canada to find this either. But it's where we've learnt it. And what better place than in the snow to rediscover the joys of family togetherness and having fun doing things we all like together. It's moving away from normal home life, chores and regularity and rediscovering family roots. Christmas at Sun Peaks is 'the white Christmas' that makes all the carols and songs make sense. The beauty of Sun Peaks in winter is incredible. There are very few shops in the ski through main 'street', and it's so refreshing for me to be completely isolated from all shopping. Selfishly, I'd like to keep just how awesome it is under wraps, so it remains just as it's been for us, but I'd also like to share Sun Peaks' awesomeness with you, because if you get there for Christmas, you too may have the same revelation about the true spirit of Christmas that we have had. And the more people who do, the better the world will be. Christmas is about family time, sharing our time together, not about buying expensive gifts and one-upmanship, Boxing Day sales and credit card overload. Find it, people, in Sun Peaks if you have the opportunity to get there.