Thursday, October 23, 2008

Day 24, Christmas Presents (93...Free!)

We started a tradition last year; family members who planned to gather on Christmas Day exchanged names, keeping their selected person a secret. (Well, they tried to keep it a secret. I'm the one who goofed. I was in charge of the drawing and several times I accidentally let a hint or two slip about who had whose names. Anakin and Lizzi decided that they would take over this year so as to not let that happen again! ;)

Last year the drawing included our family of six plus my parents and my sis/bro-in-law--ten total. Each buyer had to spent EXACTLY $20. To the PENNY. Adults and kids alike had a blast trying to figure out how they could milk the most out of $20.

I was somewhat concerned about how 'LilDude (then 5yo) would receive the idea. He was the age closest to what most people equate with TOYS, TOYS, TOYS and Christmas. Lizzi drew his name and was thrilled with the challenge.

She was able to buy a shockingly large amount of gifts with her $20. She bought:

* a StarWars Jedi costume (on sale at Goodwill right before Halloween)
* a new lightsaber
* one of the large Fisher Price dinosaurs (used, Goodwill)
* a dinosaur book (used, Goodwill)
* a new Lego set

'LilDude loved it; in actuality, it was probably the best Christmas he's ever had. I think he was relieved to not be overwhelmed by "stuff" and the expectations that go along with it. (Sometimes just having to thank people can be overwhelming for young children.)

On Christmas, we took time to have each person open their gifts slowly, one at a time. It was fun to see what $20 could buy. And I loved the fact that it wasn't all about the kids. Sometimes I think children are under the impression (perhaps correct!) that Christmas is all about THEM rather than being about the birth of Christ. As a young, teen babysitter I was once asked to babysit several days after Christmas for a family with several kids. I was astounded to arrive and see one very long wall STACKED with toys, many of them still in their original boxes, unopened. The children had received so many gifts that they hadn't even finished taking all the toys out. And when I showed interest in investigating the pile, they didn't care; it was TOO MUCH STUFF. When kids are treated equally, that tends to eliminate the overemphasis on gifts and commercialism, focusing the meaning where it should be. At least it did for us. ;)

The kids are already talking about it and planning for this year. The excitement is much higher than it used to be when they were showered with gifts.

Last year, we only did two things for gifts--this and "family gifts," consisting of several very inexpensive and/or used items that we either purchased or were given to use in a garage game room. This year, we will again only do two things--the $20 gift exchange and family gifts, this time consisting of items we need for our trip overseas.

What are you doing?

1 comment:

Sadie said...

What a great idea. We go over and over on how to make the holidays a little more about giving and less about getting....

I love the squash recipe below too.

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