When I was a kid, I loved Christmas. I was so excited I could hardly sleep. Now that I have kids I want Christmas to be about family. Not gifts. So we get each daughter one gift and ask that our parents get them one gift as well.
Any thoughts on what the right number of gifts to get children for Christmas?
Paul, when I was little, we each received just one major present. Looking back, I understand now that it was probably all my parents could afford. I remember having to choose my present - what a difficult task that was! - then write a letter to Santa to tell him what I wanted. My sisters and I would often collude to make the most of it - for instance, one year I asked for a puppet theatre and they asked for the puppets.
We generally got money from our grandparents - which, alas, was always spent on something "sensible"! Besides that, we each got a Christmas stocking full of little goodies like sweets, mandarins, trinkets and small toys.
I never felt deprived and I valued my "big present" because it was all I got. But then, most of my friends didn't get acres of presents either. I don't know how I would feel if I were in the same situation today, and all my friends were getting showered with gifts.
We get each of our kids 3 presents. It is a tradition that we started because the Wise Men gave Christ 3 gifts on the first Christmas.
SOme years the gifts are more expensive than others but we have never had any complaints
Previous years our children had sooo many presents from us, grandparents and friends that they did not know what to play with!!!
It was a shame as they could not apreciate the presents and some of them went ignored for months. This year we are giving them only two presents each, and small stocking fillers from grandparents.
I think too many presents spoil the fun. Anyway, our children still too young to be worried about it!
It worked! This year our children had 2 presents and they loved them. It is what they had asked Santa for and they are playing with it non-stop. They never missed not having 'hundreds' of presents. They were just delighted with what they got!
We used to get what now feels like MILES of presents when I was younger. But as time has gone on, Santa has brought less and less presents to our household (as prosperity has been harder and harder to find). Also, though, traditionally Santa gives my family one very large gift for the whole family to enjoy (one year we got a pool table, which is now well worn, as we all use it all the time)!
Funny, when I was little I never questioned why Santa brought so many presents to us and so few to some of my friends... Willful suspension of disbelief, I guess.
I love the three presents each idea, though, from Marye Audet.
I just love the 3 gifts each idea and will be discussing it with my daughter for the grandkids next year as my children are grown now. But I have found out the hard (and loving) way that many of us associate "gifts" with material posessions when, in fact, the most precious gift that you can give a child is the practice of giving of "themselves" as opposed to material things. I will tell you how I discovered this.
In 1987, my girls were 6 and 8. Finances were very slim at that point as I was a single mother and worked 2 full time jobs just to pay the bills and provide for them. I sat them down and told them that I did not have enough money to give them a lot of presents but that I would like for them to help me with a Christmas project that year. I told them about the patients at the hospital where I worked nights that would be confined during Christmas and some had no family to visit. I told them that I wanted to do something for them for Christmas but needed some helpers. They were all in for it and we bought some cheap bags of candy, cellophane, ribbons and made little candy bags for all the patients. We took them to the hospital and personally delivered them and visited with the patients on Christmas Eve. I have never seen such young adults in 2 small children in my life! As it turned out, we had a family member that helped us out that year and they did receive a few gifts under the tree. Although I knew that they thoroughly enjoyed the patients that year, I didn't think about the long term affect that it would have on them until 1996. I had remarried and just moved to a new town so things were really tight again. By this time, they were teenagers. My husband and I talked to them and explained the finances again and I asked them if they would mind if their Christmas was a bit late that year. Almost simultaniously, they asked if I remembered the Christmas that we visited the patients in the hospital for our Christmas. Of course, I did. They suggested that, instead of buying gifts, we should do things for others that year! I have never been so proud of anything in my life! It was at that moment that I realized the gift that I had given my 2 daughters that year at such a young age. So, we made home made candy with pecans from our pecan tree and gave it away. We raked a yard for an old lady and other little things that we normally don't even think twice to do. We were having so much fun with it that I decided to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper about it in hopes of helping someone else that may be in the same situation to deal with the depression that can come from financial difficulties over the holidays. The day it was published, I got a call from the newspaper office asking me to come by. When I went by, they handed me an envelope with a beautiful card in it, which I still have to this day. It had a nice poem inside but it was simply signed...It is in giving that you truly receive. Inside the card was over $200 for our Christmas. After we calmed the tears, the girls and I talked and decided that since I did not write the letter for financial gain, we should use the money for helping others. We agreed that they would pick out 1 gift each and the rest would be used for others. We went to the store and they both picked out the cheapest gift that they could get their hands on! Again, my peacock feathers spread wide at the size of the hearts on these teens. We got busy and did some shopping for a homeless man we knew of in the area, bought some butane for a family that would be in the cold on Christmas and bought ingredients to make even more candy to pass out. We have never felt so blessed as we have on those 2 Christmases.
Today, they both still tell me that those were the best Christmases they had in their childhood. It is because of that lesson that we have all understood the signature on that card and have began living in the fashion that it IS in giving that you truly receive! There is always someone out there less fortunate than we are and if we open our hearts to others, our blessings will overflow! May all your Christmases be filled with the feeling of giving of yourself along with the gifts that you buy.
Merry Christmas and have a blessed new year!
I love the three gift idea for the girls. This Christmas was awesome. Georgia is the perfect age (5) for Christmas. She loved her gifts, was appreciative and played with them.
My only concern was my mother in law over does it a bit, but she understands that we don't want Xmas to be all about presents. Next year, I'll remind her earlier that she can give the girls one gift, but all the hugs and kisses she wants.
My three daughters are now grown and starting families of their own. When they were in college, all of them out of state, just getting everyone home was such a huge endeavor that they asked me not to give them gifts beyond their travel expenses. I nevertheless gave each one some small gift identical to those of the other two: matching t-shirts they needed anyway, underpants one year, barrettes, good wool blankets Faribo was closing out. Instead of buy or making gifts we have shifted over the past 12 years to spending time together, doing little favors or surprises, having Boxing Day with friends (this year's vegetarian menu included egg rolls and spanakopita)... With a new grandBaby we couldn't resist acquiring modest (and some recycled) gifts for the Baby. Instead of gifts we emphasize trips to museums or concerts together, planting amaryllis and paperwhites for bloom later in the winter, trying out new and traditional foods - and giving to those less fortunate than ourselves (we increasingly opt to skip the middleman and give cash directly to a few people we know really need it). This results in such a relaxed and warm holiday - no one keeps track of who gets more than their share, or what anything cost...
But this arangement arose out of values we lived year around when they were small, and developed into something that was their own initiative once they were grown.
We give so much at Christmas, and so often too little at other times.
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