What is Christmas? To kids, it's all about getting presents. And not even necessarily the "perfect" present; the way they tear off the wrapping paper, glance at the gift, then rush on to the next one, it's more about the unknown, the mystery, the potential inside each package.
Modern culture guru Gretchen Rubin has mixed feelings about gift-giving: "I think that, often, people don’t really want these gifts. More
birthday gifts for children who already opened too many presents on
their birthday; more high-calorie treats for people who are watching
their weight...", but adds "...although I’ve tried to pretend that gift-giving didn’t matter much,
I’ve always known that it DOES matter. It’s an important gesture...Gift-giving makes me stop and think about the people in my life, what
they like, what they need. It’s tangible proof of my affection." (Read more of her thoughts on this here: http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2007/12/even-though-its/)
My kiddo loves presents as much as the next kid, and I love making her smile, but I tried not to go overboard this year. She will be getting a few presents from her daddy and me, and a few from Santa. (And a lot from relatives, but that is largely out of my control.)
I, personally, have come to the conclusion that I have enough "stuff", but, in line with what Gretchen Rubin believes, I would be hurt if my hubby and other family members didn't give me something special for Christmas. However, I fully believe that experiences make outstanding gifts, sometimes more so than yet another pair of socks. Now, if you are really in need, something basic like socks or a gas card or a blanket is appropriate and greatly appreciated, but the old adage, "It's the thought that counts" is true. Any gift given
with the needs and preferences and interests of the recipient in mind is
a good gift.
Really, though, how much stuff does anyone need? To quote a
friend, "Do we remember all of the things we were given as children or
do we remember the moments we spent with others?" I think that it's the moments spent with others--people we care about--that stay with us after even the most spectacular gift has been put aside or even forgotten. Giving the gift of experiences is not a new trend, but it is being touted as one, and I think it is catching on. After all, "What gift can we give to the people we care about that actually means
something? Why do the holidays have to be so expensive after we buy
gifts for everyone on our Christmas list? Then, on Christmas Day, we
have to find polite things to say about the unwanted gifts we get and we
find ourselves with a bunch of additional stuff to take care of whether we like it or not." (From http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2009/11/13/giving-experiences-not-things-this-holiday-season/)
To me, the best part of the holiday season is spending time with friends and family. I figured, the kiddo loves playing with her friends more than just about anything, so why shouldn't she have that experience (along with toys, of course)? I have been trying to arrange play dates for her with her friends, including several friends she doesn't get to see very often, (like friends who have moved away, or friends from preschool who go to different elementary schools). Unfortunately, I haven't had overwhelming success (darn you germs for making everyone sick!), but so far the kiddo has participated in our church's holiday play, I helped her make a gingerbread house at her class party, and she has helped me make cookies. We also plan to see the fancy-schmancy Christmas trees in town and see some of her buddies at a "mega play date" in a park, complete with hot chocolate and lots of layers. She will no doubt be disappointed when she sees that there isn't a merry-go-round in our yard on Christmas morning, but that will pass. Hopefully the memories of laughing, giggling, and playing with me, hubby, family and friends will last a lifetime.