Then we figure out what cookies we'll make for Christmas and which church service we'll attend and what kind of soup we'll have for our special crockpot dinner on Christmas Eve and decide how much we can spend on people and what we want to get them. We make our wish lists to give to others, too. That's where things get dicey.
My fourth child turned 3 this summer. We had a grand time playing at a park with some family and friends. They asked what he wanted for his birthday and I couldn't really think of anything. Nothing. I mean, sure he'd love another hot wheels car, but after about 3 days it would go into the overflowing bin of hot wheels cars that we already have and he wouldn't even know the difference. Yes, he'd think a bright t-shirt was cool, but he has plenty of clothes already. Jim and I struggled to come up with ideas.
Now Christmas is around the corner and the question looms again. I'm in a major purge of toys mood in our house. Bags and bags of clothes and toys are being tossed out or donated. We've already decided that we're not getting our kids gifts in the traditional sense. They won't have anything under the tree from us. We are taking a road trip to California later this year and that is our gift to our family. They know about the trip and know that is their gift. I just can't buy another toy for the sake of buying another toy so the kids have something to unwrap. I think that might make me sound like a Grinch, but I really don't feel like a grinch. I have a heart of gratitude and love for the generosity of those around me, but I am also acutely aware of the excess in my life. And I really don't like it.
Am I alone in thinking that we buy stuff just because the calendar says it's gift giving time and we think we should, disregarding the fact that we don't actually need anything? What if this year was different? My kids' hands-down favorite gift from their very generous grandparents was a monthly sleepover. Once per month, one kid gets to spend the night and have some serious quality time with his or her grandparents. Every now and again, all three or four go on the same night. Talk about making memories. Other ideas I love are museum or zoo memberships or tickets to a movie or play. These things don't overwhelm our homes with more stuff, but they definitely flood our hearts with new memories made with people we love.
How do you handle gift giving and receiving? Will you do it differently this year? Do you have other "outside the box" (see what I did there?!) gift ideas to share?