Give Them What They Want

Jess Curren

I sit in the middle of our floor trying gently to brush my 5-year old’s tangled hair. She’s cutting a pink piece of construction paper into her twelfth “snowflake” and complains loudly when I interrupt her concentration to attack a particularly snarled section. “Sorry,” I mutter while simultaneously wondering why we never remember to brush her hair every day. This would be so much easier if we did.

Cara chatters on, completely forgiving me within seconds. Snowflake conversation gradually leads from Christmas to Santa, and what she is going to ask him to bring her.

“I don’t know, mom. There’s nothing I want,” she answers when I ask.

“What about a new game?” I say thinking of an educational game I saw on Amazon the other day that would work perfectly into her school curriculum.

“No,” she replies simply.

We talk for a few more minutes, and it hits me. My child has nothing she wants Santa to bring her for Christmas, and that’s not a bad thing.

My husband and I have purposefully chosen to live a simple life. We have experienced first-hand the benefits of living a life where the focus is on our relationships with each other and our kids. We sold our house and most of our possessions to live in an Airstream trailer while touring the U.S., road schooling our kids and working remotely. Ours is a life free of ‘stuff’, and that becomes obvious around birthdays and holidays.

We have ‘things’ in our life, of course, but they remain things useful for a purpose and do not become the focus of our energy and time. Cara has spent nearly half her life traveling, and is perhaps more affected by this than our other two children. She is more often content playing with the same toys she’s had for the last two years, and more easily embraces our family activities, often turning a section of a hike into a skipping session and inviting the rest of us to join.

We live in a society where there is pressure to enroll our kids in the best sports programs, the most rigorous educational activities, or to have the latest and greatest gadgets and tools to make them successful. We have learned through our journey, however, that all those things look shiny on the outside, but they aren’t as important as we think they are. Not only that but many of the “good” things in life can completely overwhelm and block out the “best” things.

We spend almost every moment of every day together as a family. At first it was overwhelming, but now I struggle to fall asleep if I can’t hear my kids breathing. I crave adventure WITH my family. It takes practice, time, and patience, so the sooner you start, the better.

This Christmas consider gifting your child an adventure: time spent trying a new activity, or exploring someplace new. Put down the newest gadget, turn off the screen, and go for a hike. Let them draw stick figures in the mud. Go puddle jumping. Look closely at every acorn in their collection and then help your child organize them by size. The activity isn’t as important as your focus. Don’t invite their friends or even extended family, just focus on your relationship.

In a year from now they won’t remember the gift under the tree, but they’ll always remember that trip you took where you camped under the stars on the island, played on the beach, and roasted marshmallows over the fire.

Head to the Family Room


This Christmas, try something new. Give your kids EXACTLY what they want. It might not be what you think!

 This post was written by Jess Curren exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Professional Wedding Photographer turned full-time nomad, Jess Curren travels the country year round with her husband and three kids while living in a 2008 International Airstream travel trailer. Adventure planning, homeschooling, and small living have become her specialty over the last 2 years. She has developed a love for alligators, armadillos, and cactus, loves gourmet cupcakes, hiking, and spending time with her family.