It seems that I’ve read numerous articles in recent days about not giving “stuff” for Christmas, but instead giving time, love and energy. I had a conversation with my husband just last week about this topic, following our son’s third birthday, where he was bombarded with a pile of toys, which he loved. Momma trying to put them away in limited space? Not so much. If there’s one thing that gets me (besides poor grammar, “C” words spelled with “K” and cabinet doors that aren’t closed all the way), it’s clutter. And please don’t take this as me being ungrateful, because I’m definitely not!
Luckily, our kid is only three, so he doesn’t expect a great big pile of presents, because he doesn’t know better. And let’s be honest, toddlers have the attention span of a drunk butterfly, so they don’t need that much STUFF. My husband and I were trying to figure out the best way to let family know that if they really want to help in a way that helps, add money to our son’s college fund. Take him to the park with you. (This is a double-edged win-win of a gift, because it gives parents a break!) Go get some ice cream; I won’t even complain when you bring him home all hopped up on sugar.
-MCM Staffer Ashley,
grateful for toys because they make my little person happy,
even though I have to find space for them
Last week, we posted this story called Excellent Gifts for Kids that Aren’t Even Toys.
We’re pretty lucky in our family. I can cross off three out of four of our birthdays in May alone! Then Christmas and the fourth birthday are taken care of in December. This makes for a lot less time worrying about buying and giving presents and a lot more time thinking about how much stuff we have.
In fact, all of that thinking about not buying presents gave me a thought: I really can’t imagine having more things in my house. More toys, clothes, sippy cups… we’ve got so much already. I’m constantly packing and donating toys my boys no longer play with, it seems. Now, I don’t want to diminish or sound ungrateful for the amazing generosity of our friends and family, we’re beyond thankful for all they’ve given us… but it’s just… so much. So much more than they need.
The mountain of toys in our post-Christmas apocalypse
My boys really do not need for another thing.
I know my favorite thing about presents… it’s giving them. I spend extra time and care thinking about giving gifts to my own family, to our friends and to their families. I try to be thoughtful about my own gift-giving and I know how difficult it can be to find that perfect gift sometimes. Occasionally, before a birthday party or event, I get overwhelmed and buy something just to bring it… and maybe that’s not the right approach.
What if nobody gave my boys presents anymore? What if we only gave GIFTS.
The gifts of experience, adventure and more importantly, familiarity that they trulyneed. Instead of the things (toys, games, clothes) that they didn’t even really know about or want? The only thing I truly think my boys need to have is more time with their family…
So, starting now, this year, before the holiday season begins, I’m beginning a new tradition. Although we’ll always be grateful for the presents we and our boys receive, I’d ask that our friends and family offer these experiences and time spent with our boys instead of money spent on them.
I’m not going to tell you what to do, or what to buy… but here are some suggestions:
Instead of buying my boys a toy lion, why not take one (or both) of them to the zoo to see a real one? To spend some time with a family member or friend would mean so much more to them than another toy.
Not a lot of time to give? What about contributing towards one of the (shockingly expensive) activities the boys will be participating in? Piano/drum/guitar lessons. Swimming lessons. Summer soccer season. Dance lessons.
Don’t have a lot of money? (Hey, neither do we! No big!) — How about just spending some quality time with the boys? Set a day and take them to the park. Take one of them on a bike ride. Take one to the movies. Take them to a local play center. Instead of investing in their toy collections, invest in your relationship with them.