All I want for Christmas…

October 31, 2008 § 10 Comments

On a forum I belong to, a mom recently posted the following:

I wanted to get some ideas what large families get their kids and also how you budget.

We have our 4 kids. They are 7 and under. We have gobs of toys and I am feeling like there is nothing left to buy them! For the two littlest one, I have all the toys left over from my two biggests ones, and they have plenty.

I know kids don’t want just clothes for Christmas (although they’ll be getting some for sure). I know I’m going to get some DVDs, maybe a few video games for their Click Start computer thing, or some computer games.

But what do you get when you have practically everything! UGH!!

Every single response that followed addressed the poster quite literally– advising about what kinds of toys etc. One even talked about getting a Wii! I was like, SRSLY?? Not that I have anything against Wii’s, but I mean, really?

So I responded:

I think the question we all should be asking ourselves is, “What do we want to instill in our children?” I love giving gifts but if our kids only get tons of presents at Christmas, and come to expect tons of presents at Christmas, are these really the kind of values we want to instill (or can afford?)

I think the best presents we can give our kids are amazing memories, and making the most of these teachable moments. For instance, you could have an old fashioned Christmas, where the weeks leading up are filled with making your own homemade gifts and decorations like it’s the turn of the 20th century. It’s far cheaper than a Wii, teaches history and simplicity, and the memories will last a lifetime. Every Christmas can be a different era/theme, with a tree to match. Even the younger ones will get into it. Creativity and simplicity are the key, and are great values to instill.

I will always remember the Christmas that as the oldest, I stayed up after my four younger siblings had gone to bed Christmas Eve, stuffing their stockings with Clementine oranges and nuts. Something so simple, yet so special!

Perhaps Christmas Day, your kids could wrap up some of their toys they have outgrown (that are in primo condition) and take them to a shelter for kids who have none. I know one mom who has her kids pick one of the gifts they received Christmas morning to give to the less fortunate. They have done this since they were very little, and it is part of their family tradition.

Kids don’t need the latest and greatest or even a ton of presents and toys. Nor should you feel guilty for not being able to give it to them. Simplicity is a valuable lesson– especially in today’s economical climate. If we focus on “things” at Christmas, our kids will be focused on “things” as well. But if we can turn our attention to what matters most; family, home, traditions, memories, faith and love, then we can give our kids some of the best gifts they will ever get, which will stay with them forever.

Creativity and simplicity trump quantity and volume any day. Give your kids memories and traditions. They’ll last much longer than that Wii or Tickle-Me-Elmo.

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§ 10 Responses to All I want for Christmas…

  • kittytech says:

    I liked this. The sad thing is that sometimes the homemade gifts end up being treated like useless junk. I remember one year I was really excited because I’d been working really hard on an afghan for a friend. I didn’t have a ton of money, and I thought she’d really appreciate it. At some point she found out what I was doing and she made it clear that a gift from a store was what she was expecting. Needless to say, she didn’t get the afghan. I wasn’t going to give it to someone who wasn’t going to appreciate it. I just never forgot that though because to her, the important thing was how much the gift cost monitarily, never mind the time and effort it cost me to try to do something that I honestly thought she’d appreciate. I still do a lot of homemade gifts, but I’m a lot more careful who they go to now.

  • lijuun says:

    Oh, man, I was horrified when I read that mom’s post, and I really like your answer! They don’t need anything; she’s just getting them more stuff because . . . well, because! If they have so much already that you don’t know what to get the kid who “has everything,” that’s a problem.
    I think Christmas should be what you described it as, rather than what that mom is planning. She just doesn’t get it at all. I hope your response wakes her up.

  • DT says:

    That’s why it’s so important to raise our children on things like homemade gifts and simple traditions. If we put the emphasis on how much we spent or how many things we bought, it teaches our kids to de-value what really matters– like “the thought [that counts.” They will be more thoughtful gift givers, and more gracious gift-receivers.
    Gifts shouldn’t show that we “thought of” that person, but that we treasure and value that person– with our time and energy. That doesn’t have to reflect a monetary value at all. Your friend wasn’t raised right! lol And good for you for giving the right kind of gifts!!

  • tacky_tramp says:

    *hug* I love this. It’s really difficult to deemphasize stuff, especially for kids that watch TV and have ordinary school-friends because they’re bombarded with messages of consumption. But it’s totally worth it. For my little sister’s birthday, I gave her custom coupons for one movie date with me and one lunch date with me. She was overjoyed, and my other little sister was seething jealous and can’t wait until her birthday in December. 🙂

  • DT says:

    That’s perfect! I used to take my little brother out on “dates” when he was like seven or eight (I’m 12 years older). For years, we did stuff together at least once a week, just him and me. It was such an investment, because now he’s 21 (or will be next week!) and I’m the only sibling he seems to want to associate with at all. lol

  • DT says:

    You’re right– they don’t need anything. I’m making my baby registry right now, and it seems so bare! I don’t want a whole bunch of toys that my kid will never play with (or that I won’t let them play with! No batteries included, please!) and I don’t feel I need a whole lot either.
    America suffers from “stuffitis” and I don’t want my children to catch it!!

  • bojojoti says:

    We were poor when our kids were young, so Christmas was a big deal. It was when they could hope to have a special belonging: a bike or some other “major” purchase. Things other kids received routinely could be hoped for at Christmas. They took care of everything they received, because they appreciated it and realized a sacrifice was involved.

  • frodo_esque says:

    Absolutely excellent advice.
    I think the other parents are so caught up in how their kids might be hurt because they didn’t get material things like last year– and honestly, they will have to answer for this, but what a beautiful lesson it could turn into.
    If I were a kid, I think it would be difficult to have had Christmases where I got tons of superficial gifts and then suddenly it went to none– so I would advise giving them at least one during a transitionary Xmas in between to soften the blow.
    I absolutely love the advice about giving to those who are less fortunate and reveling in the blessings we have now.

  • ladyxan says:

    I agree, it is tough, but I make one major purchase for the girls, buy tiny things otherwise, and then what we do before, during, and after make it all the better, plus who we spend it with… =)
    I am hoping to go to PA for the Christmas break, but that is up to my family to help us get there. =}

  • ladyxan says:

    Oh forgot… start your kids on all the different celebrations of this season…
    St. Nicholas Day
    Irish Celebrations
    House Touring
    Sleigh Rides
    ..etc..
    Let them know that during these times children enjoyed food and festivals with friends and family, not huge gifts.
    And I just started the give to get rules in my house. My youngest doesn’t NEED things, she WANTS them… she must give away needy children every time she wants something. Oh, that reminds me, a good thing to do with your children is the toy and food drives for the less fortunate. =D

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