We are in the middle of the holiday time. After the notorious Black Friday, when people go crazy about getting the best deals and spending thousands of dollars on stuff they probably won’t need. And right before Christmas when people long for superlatives of gifts and eager to shout “ME!” to answer the question: “Who got the biggest of all presents?”

The principle is simple: every year at this ominous event called Christmas, people around the world gift their family members and friends loads of material things. Bikes, PlayStations, iPhones, iPads, laptops, socks, fidget-spinners, shirts, vouchers and about a trillion things more. All of these material things, are things you can take in your hands.

You can touch them, but can you feel them?

No, because they are only material things. They are made of plastic, metal or another material. They are things you can hold, but these things couldn’t hold you. Like for example your parents could. Like inspiring time with a loved one could. These things have no soul. They are empty on their inside. Often, only gifted for the sake of having something to gift, or simply because the deal was too good to ignore.

They represent our will to show some goodness for someone else, without investing too much of our time or effort. Sounds hard, but consider that most people would rather spend 2 hours searching for the right present to gift a “loved one”, instead of spending 2 hours in real-life with this person. Do your loved ones earn their title, if they aren’t worth your time? Do you spend time with them because you have to or because you want to? Think about this for a second.

Bought goodness

Is this the goodness we should looking for? I guess not, because this goodness is ephemeral. Remember, how often did material things make you smile, after let’s say, two months? Not in the moment you were given this present. But, two months after. We are so overloaded with material goods, that we often can’t enjoy material things over a long-time period.

Now, compare this with moments. Do you have a smile on your face, when you remember some beautiful moments with loved ones? Probably. Because these moments are remarkable, they are worthwhile and they are worth to remember.

I can remember a simple dinner with my brother. After he had achieved to sell an old phone for me, I invited him to a dinner at my costs. We were dressed well, enjoyed tasty food and a very good conversation. Although it is over 2 years ago, I still can remember and feel the overall positive feeling connected to this shared time. Every time I think about it, I smile, because it is a beautiful memory.

In comparison, I can barely remember what I got as present last Christmas. It took me at least one minute to figure out what I got and to be honest, I can’t revive the positive feeling I had at this given moment.

I bet, you understand what I mean and felt the same, as you remembered a beautiful memory over something you got last Christmas or on your last birthday.

My own past taught me something simple

Material things are great for kids and young teenagers, because without teaching them that material stuff isn’t everything, they believe real presents are only things, you can put your fingers on. Because they think that gifting toys and other stuff to fiddle around is the only way to express love. I mean, how could they think differently, when society teaches us this behavior on a daily basis?

Think about that. Just for a second. Is it easier to buy your wife a new bracelet or take some time off your job and spend some quality time with her? Is it easier to buy your child the new shiny toy or to take some time to play with this child, let us say, in nature? Of course, it is easier to buy something, gift something and forget about the person immediately after you delivered the package. It is the easy way to make somebody else (who is believing this) feel like he or she is loved. Also, it is the easy way to survive Christmas without spending too much time with family members and so-called friends, while you give huge companies your money. But why would you do that, when you are interested in these persons? Why would you gift something, whose worth is measured in money?

The most precious gift is time

Time is the best thing you can gift somebody. Not only on their birthdays, or on Christmas. But also in general. I can call myself lucky. Why? Because my parents always tried to make some time for their children’s. For my siblings and me. In the past, I wasn’t able to understand the worth of time with my parents and the loved ones around me. But in my teenage years I learned to appreciate it. I had several friends with parents that weren’t spending much time with them. It was the exact opposite. They got almost every material thing they ever wanted and lived a high standard of life.

But they didn’t get the most important thing: Time.

Most of them, became sad and tired of their parents not being around. They had nobody to talk to in difficult situations, nobody who shares experiences with them, when they were about to do something. Although they had friends, although they had toys, something crucial was missing: time with their loved ones.

I know, you could say, that, because I was raised like this I believe in time over materials. And that might be true. But probably it isn’t. To find out why, I want you to do one simple thing, I have heard of in a podcast of TheMinimalists:

Take some time, take a sheet of paper and a pen and write down your 10 most expensive purchases in the last decade. After this, turn the paper and write down the 10 things that added the most value to your life over the last decade. Now, you will see that these “things” that added the most value to your life aren’t actual things. They are moments, that enriched your human-being and are worth to remember. Do you still think the same about materials possessions and experiences?

Now, think again about the influence of my parents

It took me years to realize that time is the most precious resource you can gift someone. I was confronted with friends struggling with social interaction, showing love and expressing their true feelings. I connected a lot of their sufferings, with the lack of a trusted person they can talk to. That they are neglected from their parents, their loved ones. But for a long time, I still thought that material things are worthwhile, because you can hold on to them, even if they are old. I thought that experiences would fade away and give nobody something worth to remember.

I guess, I was wrong

Parents always tell their children that they love them. Every parent does that. But how many parents show that? How many show this love on a daily basis? In simple actions like smiles, hugs, an open ear for problems or time together?

Just a few ones. Even if any. This is the sad answer. Instead, most of them work hard, to materialize everything around them. To gift their Childs something to hold, because they can’t hold them. Because they are to focused in increasing their material wealth. Because they are trapped in the wrong assumption that money and materialism are the keys to happiness.

Because I don’t want you to get trapped too, here is a suggestion: Don’t be a fool wasting time not expressing your true feelings to your loved ones. Don’t be a fool wasting money, to avoid spending time with your loved ones. Instead, invest time in shared experiences and moments worth to remember. They are the ones that care about you the most. Do the same to them. They deserve it.

Ultimately, Christmas is the time of family & your loved ones, right?