Monday, December 10, 2012

Just four gifts.

As a kid, I remember walking into our living room on Christmas morning and seeing the tree all lit up with a room full of presents, and it was an amazing feeling. Maybe even more amazing than the presents themselves. It was the anticipation that I relished and I truly felt the magic of Christmas.

I really want to make Christmas as magical for my kids as it always was for me, make all of their gift wishes come true but also make sure they understand the true meaning of Christmas and the value of giving.

But something's got to give in that equation because it just doesn't all fit. How can I teach my kids that it's better to give than to receive when I've been unintentionally equating a magical Christmas to filling a room full of gifts for them? I think I need to retrain my brain, and theirs. 

I mean, I WANT to give to them. And I know the grandparents WANT to give to them. I love seeing their faces light up when they see a room full of gifts, and the excitement of opening their presents. That's the magic for me. And for them, because duh, presents.

The haul from last year. Although to be fair, there are presents for cousins/grandparents/etc. under the tree as well. A room that gets filled with presents overnight is magical when you're a kid!

But my kids already have SO much. The toys are overtaking our house and the more they get, the less each gets played with (and the less room we have for more). Don't get me wrong, they'd play with them all if they had the time, but that's not reality. And I hate to see toys go to waste when there are so many other kids out there with barely a fraction of what my kids have.

I don't want Christmas to turn into one big gift grab. If that's the biggest focus, I worry that we'll lose focus on all of the other things that make Christmastime truly special. What I want them to learn is that a magical Christmas doesn't necessarily have to mean more gifts for them, before they start taking it all for granted. Christmas should be just as much about family, traditions, and the excited feeling you get when you see your tree all lit up and decorated, or you bake cookies for Santa, or you pick out a special gift for someone who wouldn't otherwise get anything, and you watch someone smile as they open a gift you picked out especially for them.

I've thought a lot about this recently, and based on some Pinterest inspiration from last year, Adam and I have decided to pare down our gift giving this year in an effort to simplify and focus on enjoying the anticipation and the spirit of the season.

They'll each get just 4 gifts from us: something they want, something they need, something to play and something to read. Santa will also come, but we told the boys we've asked him to take it easy on the gifts this year to make sure there's more to go around for the people who need them. And we'll help Santa out by participating in our local rescue mission's toy/book drive through school. They'll also be very involved in deciding what to get the people on their gift list, now that they're old enough to keep a secret ☺.

We've explained what we are doing this year and why, and I think they're on board. It makes them sad to know that some kids don't get any gifts, and they realize that our house is full of toys. I don't know if that makes them appreciate their toys more, but it certainly does give them perspective. Logan was excited to pick out a book for us to donate, which made me happy to see.

In the meantime, we've already been enjoying the season.

Decorating our tree, listening to Christmas music, finding Jack the Elf every day, and shopping for the cousins and Lorelai (she stayed home to nap while I took Aidan and Logan out this weekend).

Now if only I could find the time to go shopping for everyone *else* on my list, including the boys...

So tell me: How does everyone else achieve balance? Am I crazy for worrying about this now while they're still young and believe in Santa?


  1. Your tree and mantle and Christmas decor are perfection! And yes, I agree with everything you wrote. I think it's better to worry about this now while they're young than not at all. We still have time to establish the Christmas traditions for our family. I love the four gifts idea, too. :-)

    1. Thanks! I'm still tweaking the mantle (completely switching it up from last year) and Lorelai is still tweaking the tree, lol! She keeps moving ornaments around even though it's great as is :)

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