Make Memories with the Kids this Holiday Season
Instead of showering kids with presents, give them memories.
Every time I walk into my children's playroom, I nearly kill myself on all the toys. It looks like Santa's workshop exploded in my basement. We have been very blessed, but our children are just plain spoiled. They have every plastic, cool this moment, made in China thing imaginable. I'm pretty sure we have an entire semester at Harvard paid for in video games. As we enter the Holiday season, it's very clear to me that my children certainly don't NEED anything, and there is very little they really want. So, when friends and family ask "What do the kids want for Christmas?" I have no idea what to tell them.
Last Christmas, it finally dawned on my husband and I that on Christmas morning the kids were just as happy with three things as they were with 30. Still, I felt extremely guilty on Christmas Eve as we laid out the few things that they had really wanted. They looked so small compared to previous years gifts. The most amazing thing happened in the morning though. The kids were thrilled! They each got things they really wanted, and actually enjoyed those items more.
This Christmas, we are going to go that same route again. My children are too small to understand dollar values in gifts, so we just make sure they have an even amount and three seem completely perfect. My husband isn't always home on Christmas, so the years he is, I want to make the holidays about family and not consumer goods. It isn't easy to shift kids focus from "I want" to "doing." I would much prefer my children have memories of decorating the Christmas tree while they snack on cookies and hot cocoa than what over-priced thing-a-ma-jig they got when they were 7.
I hope that by teaching our children that the Holidays are about family, and time spent together, they will not be wrapped up in the buy, buy, and buy mania this time of year. We plan on doing more "memory" creating events. There are so many great holiday things to see here, it would be a shame not to experience them. We plan on seeing the Nutcracker, going to visit Santa (of course!), visiting the National Christmas Tree. Mount Vernon has a beautiful Christmas display, but my husband and I may save that for our "Date Night." I look forward to taking them ice skating for the first time this year in Pershing Park and driving around neighborhoods looking at Christmas light displays. Sure, they would prefer another beyblade instead of watching a ballet, but hopefully they will someday appreciate the traditions we have begun.
As my children get older, I also want them to understand the importance of giving. They recently got Samaritan Purse boxes, and filled those to be shipped overseas. I am going to have them make Christmas cards for their friends who have a parent deployed this Christmas. I want them to know that everyone sacrifices, and that we need to remember our friends who are missing their parent this year. With the economic downturn, I think everyone could use it as an excuse to have more meaningful Holidays. Making sure that children realize Christmas isn't about "stuff" but something far greater is the best gift we can give them.