I recently was listening to a radio call-in show about Christmas spending. A gentleman called in and talked about how each year he would make a Christmas list and each year his mother would get him EVERYTHING on the list. He was embarrassed to share his story about when he was 38-years-old and as he unwrapped his last Christmas present, the PlayStation he asked for wasn’t in his pile of gifts. He pouted and grumbled, only for his mother to reveal a new PlayStation she had hidden in the other room. Hard to choose what is most ridiculous about that story, but it’s redeeming that he recognized how out of control his expectations had become. Even better to know that his perspective on Christmas changed after that.
As I start to think about Christmas, specifically gifts for the kids, I’m reminded of the pile of toys we pick up each night. I can hear the “oohs and ahhs” and “Oh Mama I really LOVE this [fill in the blank toy],” as Georgia rifles through yet another toy flyer that came in the mail. I think about how they have more fun with an empty paper towel tube or a silly song on the computer than most of the toys in their bins.
I’ve started to pack away toys they’ve stopped playing with in preparation for the onslaught of new ones that will fill the house over the next few weeks. I’m not a scrooge and recognize the fun and wonder that Christmas brings (not to mention the celebration of the birth of Christ!), but I want to start to set realistic expectations and instill a sense of gratitude for all we have.
What we remember most, I believe, are our childhood experiences, not necessarily the BEST toy we received at Christmas. (Although I do remember how awesome it was to walk downstairs Christmas morning and see an Animal drum set under the tree.) So I’d like to start swapping one or more of the purchases of a “thing” for an experience, like dance classes or a fun Georgia-only day out on the town.
The Y has a slew of experiences your kids will be sure to remember: a week at camp, an art class, a sports program, tae kwon do, or the chance to learn how to swim – and this year, they’re helping you wrap it all up for the holidays! From membership to youth classes, or an adventure at one of their cool family fun pools – they’ve packaged up affordable holiday gifts for kids (and grown-ups) of all ages. I’m not going to begrudge anyone a new doll or lego set, but the gift of time and new experiences can create memories - and skills - that last well into adulthood.
Check out the YMCA Holiday Gift options at http://www.ymcamke.org/gifts !