Yep. I know. Pretty much the worst parents ever. Right up there with old Scrooge. Bah humbug.
It’s not that I don’t believe in Christmas gifts, or that my kids should never get toys or gifts. We love getting our kids fun things, like the Doc McStuffin’s doctor bag we surprised Olivia with randomly this summer after she had talked about it and talked about. The way her eyes lit up… so sweet to fulfill a child’s little wish! She’s played with that doctor bag every single day since.
But at Christmas time? We already know our kids are going to be lavished by loving relatives and friends. They will get plenty of fun toys, many that will become classics in our daily play for the next year. We are so blessed by grandparents especially who are thrilled to delight our kids with a few new toys each Christmas. Just enough to be treasured and enjoyed.
I promise you, my kids are not deprived.
They are already going to get a small mountain of gifts throughout the month of December as we celebrate with various family. They don’t need another mountain from us. At some point, it’s too much, and kids start to get lost in their pile rather than enjoying the specialness of each gift and the thoughtfulness put in to it by those they love.
We would rather save our gifts for random spring afternoons. Or just because summer days. Because our kids really don’t need more stuff. But I do want them to meet the Gift Giver in us. The one from whom all Good Gifts come. Who loves to lavish us with things beyond which we hope for or desire. Who surprises us sometimes and makes us wonder, “This is for me? Really? Just…because??”
That’s not to say that we might not get them a gift on Christmas day ever. There are a couple of epic Christmas presents I remember from my childhood. Like the Lego Castle that my parents stayed up late Christmas Eve assembling for us. It was a total surprise. My brothers and I still talk about playing with that thing. I don’t remember a single other thing we got that year… or many other years for that matter. But that one was special, especially because of the thought and work they put in to it to surprise us with it. I hope my kids have a few of those epic Christmas presents they remember together long after the toy itself has gone.
I don’t want to drown our kids in clutter and stuff just for the sake of stuff. Even the stuff they say they want when we pass it in the aisle at the grocery store. Maybe especially not that stuff. I hope that they understand that the fact that they receive several gifts at Christmas time is a wonderful privilege they enjoy growing up in the first world. An exciting, sweet, cherry-on-top privilege to their already bursting-with-blessing lives.
Part of our Christmas routine has also been to take the month of December and weed through our toys. I actually do this periodically throughout the year too, but we do especially at Christmas time. We get rid of broken or junky things that have accumulated. We put away a few toys in the basement, give a few others away that we have outgrown. We make some room in our bins and shelves for the bounty that is coming, and excitedly wait to fill them afresh!
We also take note of what we might want that will enhance our enjoyment of things we already have and enjoy– like play food for our play kitchen, since we already have all the plates and cups. Some new marbles for our marble chutes, since a lot of the marbles have mysteriously disappeared. A new sketchbook for the art set, since all the pages have been used up and colored in.
It keeps the season simple. It keeps it from becoming an overwhelming mess of stuff stuff stuff that the kids and I can hardly keep up with. It also allows us the time and space to talk about the things that matter. Like why we give and receive gifts this season. Why it’s special to do so. We enjoy special time spent with loved ones beyond just tearing into toys.
Nope, no Christmas gifts from us so far. We might surprise Olivia with a scooter this year. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe we will save it for the first warm day of spring. I’m not sure yet.
But one thing I know this Christmas season will be full of is joy, love, and laugher. And remembering the One who came and gave us every good and perfect gift we have ever received.