Parenting · Reflections

Giving and Gifting

It’s the holiday season! Growing up, I could not wait to sit on the floor of the den with my pencil and an old notebook from school and thumb through the Sears or JC Penney catalog to make my Christmas wish list. My parents allowed me and my younger brother to create and post our sugar plum desires on the refrigerator and then on our bedroom doors from ages 6 or 7 to maybe age 13. I remember that the older I became, the shorter, more expensive, and detailed my list became. I began including not only size, color, page number, and possibly even the item number of my heart’s desire. I often compared my list to my brother’s just to make sure he didn’t have anything that I needed to add. The last list I recall writing included a 14K ring (which I still wear to this day), a leather jacket, and a multidisc cd changer with remote control. I think I got the one I wanted and then got an upgrade in college.

I am grateful for those Christmas memories and that my parents afforded my brother and me that privilege. I don’t know how kids today can get through Christmas without the heavy physical catalogs and the barrage of toy commercials! My niece watches most of her shows via a streaming service (no commercials) and asks for things she sees her peers or me and her mom with (no catalogs).

Lately, I’ve been blessed to hear parents say that their child doesn’t need anything for Christmas! I think that is a beautiful thing! Even if your family uses the holidays to re-up or you think your child deserves more toys, consider the following:

  • Gift experiences
    • Intangible gifts can sometimes make the most memorable ones. Your child will never forget their 1st plane ride, cross-country road trip, hike in the mountains, rollercoaster ride, or waking up Christmas morning on the beach.
  • Give the gift of giving
    • If your child has toys in their room, playroom, your room, and the car, use this time of year to not only discard broken toys but also give away those gentle used or maybe even never used toys. So many have lost so much during this pandemic. This is the best time to teach your child the importance of sharing and to be grateful for what they already have.
  • The more you know
    • Books never go out of style. Find a genre and style (i.e. comic book, anime, or e-reader) that your child finds enjoyable. Even if they don’t become avid readers, they won’t forget the gift of reading.
  • Hands-on learning
    • Help your child explore their interest. If they are constantly using your attention as their stage, find a voice teacher. Connect your child with a local artist or maker to show them how to turn hobbies into profits. Teach your child how to start their own business. Give them hope for the future.
    • STEAM/STEM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) experience spark curiosity. Science projects can encourage imagination and can breathe life into areas beyond math like social studies or language arts. Science is about processes, asking questions, creating hypotheses and drawing conclusions. These can be applied to every area of life.
  • Shop local and shop small
    • Finding grandparents a gift from a local bookstore as opposed to a big box retailer or ordering something personalized from a maker on Etsy educates your child the importance of community. This is also an opportunity to impart a goal or dream within your child.

Children are born with potential. Use this time of year to plant, water, or cultivate seeds of charity, inspiration, and hope.

On aside, if you decide to give toys, remember that boys can play with dolls and kitchens, and girls can have trucks and tools. Also, socks, underwear, and pajamas are always in need!

Give love. Get love.

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