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Picture a Christmas! Your favorite Christmas. What do you see?
Do you see a small apartment with a pre-decorated tree perched atop a coffee table?
Are you sitting alone with the television watching a marathon of “A Christmas Story” and picturing the holidays of your childhood while you sip hot chocolate and nibble on butter cookies from a tin?
Or…..do you see family and friend gathered together in their best clothes, taking turns opening their presents while everyone watches and encourages them to open faster?
Is a child at the center of this attention, opening gifts and then being told to open another and another until they are too tired to play with the toys they received?
Do some of the gift receivers purse their lips with dissatisfaction and push the gift into a corner to be forgotten on their way out? Or do they vocalize their discontent amidst all the presents that they didn’t get that one gift that was out of everyone’s spending budget for this year?
What I want
I like to picture something in between. As I keep telling anyone who will ask, all I really want for Christmas is time with family and friends.
I love thoughtful gifts that say “I thought of you” even if other people think a bag of M&Ms is not an acceptable present or a vacuum cleaner (which I will ask for if that is what I need).
(And, of course, I love partaking of Christmas cookies and candy canes and hot cocoa.)
What I want for my children
I also love to watch my daughter open gifts, but I prefer she not have so many gifts that she doesn’t get a chance to enjoy each one as she opens it
I love watching her eyes light up when she receives a new friend. I also love how she hugs her new stuffy or action figure to her heart and then begins helping them walk, introducing them to friends and family, and sitting them down to tell them a leisurely story.
She can’t do that when people are recording her joy and pushing more gifts on her like an assembly line.
I see posts about the four gifts of Christmas–one to wear, one to read, one to eat, and one for fun (or one they want, one they need, one to wear, and one to read)–and wish I could suggest that policy to family and friends without them getting upset.
I want them to understand that I don’t want to dampen their fun. I want the joy to come from the time together not a million beautifully wrapped packages under a glittering tree.
I am hoping loved ones read this post and get the real messages from it:
- I love to spend time with you.
- I love our Christmas traditions, particularly the edible ones.
- I want my daughters to enjoy time with you far more than they enjoy receiving gifts.
- Physical gifts will never compare to intangible ones, so save some pennies and just prepare to spend time together.
If you feel you have to purchase a gift for my children, here are some suggestions about what I would really want them to have. Please limit this to only one!
- Memberships to a museum, the zoo, or similar outing we can do together as a family (bonus if the giver is able to come along as well!)
- Gift cards to kid-friendly restaurants (including McDonald’s!) where they can pick out their own favorite foods
- Something homemade
- Something that can complement what they already have. For example, if they have a favorite doll, then maybe an outfit for it
- Certificates for “big kid” activities, like laser tag or mani-pedis
- Magazine subscriptions (bonus points if they’re educational or inspirational!)
- Educational items: puzzles, books, art supplies, etc.
- Music. We love having educational and inspirational music to listen to at home during playtime and in the car while we run errands
- Photo keepsakes: Shutterfly and similar organizations have tons of magnets, photo books, and more that would be perfect for making special gifts for my children
- Lessons to learn how to play musical instruments
- Outdoor equipment to increase family playtime outside
- Family board games
- Educational movies or DVDs. Check out our favorites here.
Whatever you decide to get my children, please know that I am grateful that you love them, too.
About the author
This post was written by our good friend, Annabella Ordena. You can check out her blog here.