Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Values

So Christmas is on the way! And I have my Christmas shopping 99% completed (and half of it wrapped too!) But I worry that I did not get the kids exactly what they want. I worry that all the stuff they are getting won't make them happy if they didn't get that one thing. And I worry, and I worry, and I worry. Silly, isn't it? To worry so much over presents. But I do it every year, no matter how much I try not to. And I know I'm not alone - I have friends who worry over the same thing. It's even harder when you have multiple children, same gender, and so close in age. You want everything to be equal - same number of presents, same type of presents, same cost of presents. You know that on Christmas morning, someone is sure to say, "Why didn't I get that? I want one too!!"

(Really, this makes my kids sound terrible! They are not whiny, greedy, ungrateful children - most of the time =). But they are children. And so I worry.)

For instance, I got the two older ones this crafty thing (they read my blog so I have to be careful :).) So I thought I should get the younger one something equally crafty. But after I bought that, I decided against what I was going to get for the older two because it would mean they would have 12 presents, and Olivia would have 11. So yesterday, I'm looking at the gift for the youngest and thinking,

"Wow this is really cool. I bet Abby would really like this too. Maybe I should go get her one. It's only $6 with a coupon. I could just run out Saturday and pick it up for her. But if I get that for her, what will I get for Eme? And if I get Eme and Abby another gift, then I need to find something else for Liv..."

Seriously. I was upset over this - mulling over it for hours. I called my BFF to see what she would do. Which just made her want to run out and get one of these crafty things also. Actually get two, b/c she has two girls. And then it occured to me. It's so simple, so DUH!

Abby has a birthday in the spring. I could wait and if she really likes it, get it for her birthday. In fact, all of my girls will have birthdays again next year. (duh) It really wouldn't hurt any of them to wait for something they like. It would be, like, a good experience for them. Wow.

How is it that this concept of them waiting and not getting every single thing they have ever wanted on Christmas morning didn't occur to me? I mean, it has because sometimes we just can't afford what they want. But on the little stuff... 'I mean, it's only $6'... We want our kids to "have it all." But really, while we're pushing all this stuff at them - what are they really learning - what values are we teaching them?

(BTW - I don't go crazy - I have kept my shopping to less than $100 per girl, and much less for Daniel - as in, we are wrapping up hand me down toys for him :). But still, I know there is this desire in me to give them every single thing they could want. )

Maybe the best Christmas gift I could give my kids is the one where they learn the value of going without so someone else doesn't have to. A relative of mine is spending their Christmas money to send a mom dying of cancer and her 4 kids to Disney for Christmas, rather than buy gifts for their grown children.

Maybe the best gift would be the value of learning to save their own money to buy something they really want. In this credit ridden society, maybe it would be good for them to experience the pride of saving to buy that special item. (They'd probably take better care of it too)

Maybe the best gift I could give them would be learning the value of "less is more." We don't always need more to be happy. Less clutter means more time and energy to enjoy life.

Or maybe I could give them the value of my time. A coupon book good for 'an extra story with Mommy,' 'a wrestling match with Daddy,' 'a game of Scrabble with Grandma,' 'a trip to the park with Grandad,' etc. Rather than a bunch of stuff, maybe some extra time spent together would be even better.

I'm not saying the kids shouldn't get anything for Christmas. I'm just trying to gain a better perspective of gift-giving. When I think about Christmas as a child, my parents couldn't afford a lot of stuff, but I always enjoyed what I got very much. I sometimes got a little green over what a few of my friends might receive, but it wasn't that big of a deal. I still have great Christmas memories. And I valued what I had all along - my parents' love for me and for each other - over all the "stuff". And God's love for me too. I need to focus more on showing that to my kids this Christmas season - my love for them, for their daddy, and for our God. Rather than my love for stuff.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Hey Jess - I am not looking forward to the stage where my girls start caring about presents - they are still so little that I haven't had to worry about it (yet!).
At church last Sunday, they taught the kids about "fairness" - what to do when life is unfair. It really made me start thinking - the handout for parents talked about how it is perfectly right to have one child get more for a Christmas than the others - maybe even rotate years - and help the other children learn how to celebrate with their sibling.
It was a new thought for me. I'm not sure what I think about it, but it sure is a lot more like real life. What are your thoughts?