Hearing Tracey Theemes speak at a recent PWN event definitely got us thinking about the constant need for more when we already have enough – we are sure you can relate! With the festive season upon us, we wanted to share a few words and reinforce a key take-away from Tracy’s time with us.
My whole perspective on Christmas spending changed dramatically five years ago. Two things happened.
The first was when I was in a Toys R Us aisle and witnessed harried parents screaming at their two children for being greedy. As they all pawed and fingered various toy items, the tension between them was so thick, so teetering on violence, that I thought I was going to be ill. As a former child therapist I can tell you those kids would have much preferred hanging out with their parents with a bowl of popcorn and drinking hot cocoa then being yelled at under harsh lights at 8:30 pm, exhausted and long past their energetic limit. The parents, caught in the frenzy of purchasing holiday happiness, were buying stuff they couldn’t really afford and adding more lines to a tapped out visa card. I couldn’t stop thinking about this poor family.
At dinner, the very next Sunday, I held a roundtable discussion for the 14 members of my family who were in our gift circle. Using the outline of Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages, we talked about how we most wanted to receive love. Each one of us reflected and shared our preferences. It was fun… and fascinating! Only two of the 14 had “gifts” as their language. Wow! The rest of us were divided amongst the other four categories: physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, and acts of service.
When love is the focus of holiday gifting
We then made the decision to radically change how we exchanged gifts that year. My love language is “acts of service,” which means that when you help me out or solve a problem for me, I melt with pleasure. So I was given certificates for service. And Aunt Roberta got written promises of back rubs and neck massages. Others got poems and love letters. We actually paid attention to what the real currency of love was for each person. And it was huge game changer for us. The two people who valued tangible gifts got them. But the rest of us got love in the way we understood it… and needed it. We have not exchanged presents since. No more mall shopping or Visa breaking or dashing for last minute pick ups. Now we focus on what the season means to us and to each other.
Some people do look at me with mild distaste when I tell them what our Christmas has evolved into. They do not want to be us. But most look at me with envy. My values are in direct opposition to needless over-spending and consumerism. My heartfelt need is to break bread with those I love and celebrate the season by bringing more love and light and laughter into our lives. Not breaking the bank to create mounds of stuff, much of which is unneeded.
Start on the path to enough
Now is the time to step back. Push the pause button and set the course for a different path – the path to enough. Go inside. Ask the hard questions and let go of assumptions. You can flow with the current or you can jump to the banks and set your own course. We’re here to help you discover your financially empowered life. It’s your holiday. Celebrate it YOUR way.
About Tracy Theemes
Prior to co-founding Sophia Financial Group in 2009, and starting www.tracytheemes.com, an online financial education platform for women, Tracy worked as a financial consultant with Smith Barney, a US brokerage firm and after returning to Canada was an advisor with a large bank owned investment firm. Tracy Theemes has an M.A. in Counselling Psychology. She is a Certified Financial Planner, insurance licensed and a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute. Tracy was recently awarded the International Alliance of Women Global 100 Award for her work in empowering women through education. Her book “The Financially Empowered Woman” won the Bronze prize for the Living Now awards for finance and economics and the Axiom Gold medal in the category of personal finance. She was just named one of the UBC Education Alumni 100 recipients for her community leadership in promoting financial literacy.