We're pretty lucky in our family. I can cross off three out of four birthdays in May alone! Then Christmas and the fourth birthday (the youngest) are both taken care of in December. This makes for a lot less time worrying about buying presents and a lot more time thinking about how much crap stuff we have.
In fact, all of that thinking about not buying presents gave me a thought. I really can't imagine having more things in my house: More toys, clothes, sippy cups, dirty dishes—we've got so much already.
I don't want to diminish or sound ungrateful for the amazing generosity of our friends and family because we're beyond thankful for all they've given us. But it's just...so much. My boys really do not need for another thing.
My favourite thing about presents is giving them. I spend extra time and care thinking about giving gifts to my own family, to our friends, and to their families. I try to be thoughtful about my own gift-giving, and I know how difficult it can be to find that perfect gift sometimes.
But what if nobody gave me boys presents anymore? What if they only gave them GIFTS?
The gifts of experience, adventure, and more importantly, familiarity that they truly need. Instead of the things—toys, games, clothes—that they didn't even really know about or want?
So, starting now, this year before the holiday season begins, I'm beginning a new tradition. Although we'll always be grateful for the presents our boys receive, I'd ask that our friends and family offer these experiences and time spent with our boys instead of money spent on them.
Instead of buying my boys a toy lion, why not take one (or both) of them to the zoo to see a real one? To spend some time with a family member or friend would mean so much more to them than another toy.
Not a lot of time to give? What about contributing towards one of the shockingly expensive activities the boys will be participating in: piano, drum, guitar, swimming, dance lessons or summer soccer season.
Don't have a lot of money (Hey, neither do we! No big!), how about just spending some quality time with the boys? Set a day and take them to the park. Take one of them on a bike ride. Take one to the movies. Instead of investing in their toy collections, invest in your relationship with them.
We have a really good friend who, back in May, couldn't make it to Cash's third birthday party. She said she wanted to drop off a present at another time and I said "He really doesn't need anything, but we'd love a visit! Actually, instead of a present, why not just take him and do something with him just the two of you?" In the end she, her boyfriend, and their friend and her daughter ended up going to the zoo with Cash and he LOVED it. Now he remembers them when they see each other and loves spending time with them!
This is what I would like for my boys to grow up with. Not mountains of toys (which are growing bigger by the minute) but the experiences and close relationships with the people in their lives that matter most.
I always think about the what if's. What if something happened to me? What if something happened to their dad? They've built strong bonds with some family members, but others are only seen on occasion and only for short periods of time. Building relationships now with these family members and friends will only benefit them in the long run if something were to ever happen to us.
These are the things I think about, people. Deep, I know.
But seriously, if you're in our circle of friends or family, please don't buy my kids presents but instead give them the gift of your time and love. That's the ONLY thing they need.
Looking for holiday inspiration? Visit the YMC Holiday Guide to find everything from sweet treats and delicious dishes to DIY décor and favourite family movies. If it’s holiday related, you’ll find it there.