What do you remember from Christmas when you were 5 or 10 years old? Do you remember the meals you ate, the time you spent with family, the gifts you received, what Santa brought you, or where you traveled?
How many times did you ask your kids what they wanted for Christmas? "What do you want Santa to bring?" "What do you think Grandma should get you?" I asked these questions and most often I received ridiculous requests from my 8 and 10 year-olds for an iPhone or iPad, but in reality the most common response was, "well, I dunno, nothing really".
So imagine the pressure for our kiddos to come up with something for everyone to gift them (without being greedy). We teach our kiddos all year long to stop asking for things. I've heard myself saying, "...stop begging for something every time we go to the store." We often talk about people who may be less fortunate. We talk about how our donations to church around the holidays help ensure that others have an opportunity to experience Christmas. We talk about the homeless and ways we can help. We talk about Children who don't even have some of the basic daily needs, which is why we donate our gently used coats and clothes to their school. In fact, my kids were delighted and felt so good, deep inside, when they saw a student at their school wearing one of their old jackets. He didn't have socks on that day we saw him, but he had a nice warm coat when the temperatures were below freezing!
I asked my kiddos before Christmas what they were most excited about with the upcoming holiday. Not one word about gifts and not one word about Santa. Here was their combined list:
I feel like many of us fret over every last detail of Christmas. What will we, as parents, get the kids? What should Grandma get them? What should Nana get them? Do you know how many times I asked my kids what they thought or wanted Santa might bring them this year? At one point my daughter even yelled and me to "STOP asking!!"
Yes, it is fun to have a tangible gift to open, but does it have to be a tangible "thing" inside, like a toy, game, doll?
We visit our family in the upper Midwest which almost always guarantees a Winter Wonderland and snow-filled fun time! This year, we gifted an experience. We wrapped up new snow goggles and snow gloves (which I felt were almost necessity for the experience) with a little note about their Ski Lesson scheduled for 11am on December 26th! They were ecstatic! While this is a somewhat expensive experience, it is one I believe they will remember for years to come.
We spent the day after Christmas with them learning to ski and snowboard on the bunny hill. We laughed at their tumbles and teared-up when they bravely rode the ski lift to take on the "big hill". They built their confidence, we beamed with pride, they learned a new skill and the best part...they keep asking when they can do it again!
Oh, and we did "check off" the items on their memory list from years past and I bet, when I ask them in 2020 what they are most excited about for Christmas, they will say:
They won't remember the Nintendo Switch Game that someone gave them, the soccer ball or the popular toy that every kid got. What I hope they will remember, is the time we spent as a family playing the games they received, doing a puzzle together, drinking hot cocoa, watching Holiday movies and all the other non-tangible experiences. What experience will you gift?