Parents should remember that their children prefer quality time over things.
–Sabrina Lamb, World of Money founder and CEO
My cousin was less than a year old when she experienced Christmas for the first time. My parents and I went up to visit my aunt and uncle in their upstate New York home — and found the tree laden with presents. There seemed to be 50 gifts under the tree — maybe there were 25, but to me it seemed like way too many for someone who wasn’t even 1 year old. I wasn’t married at the time, but I vowed that I would never inundate my kids with presents like that.
Well, you could say that my husband and I went overboard, because we have never given our children more than three or four presents at a time. Frankly, we couldn’t afford it, and we were committed to living within our means. So we tried to acclimate them to scarcity. Also, we didn’t want to raise greedy, avaricious little monsters who would cry if they didn’t get what they wanted. When they were babies, they got very little — they didn’t know, so we knew we could get away with such severity. Heh heh. We knew it wouldn’t last long, so we vowed to enjoy it while we could.
One year my pastor asked the congregation, “Do you remember what you got for Christmas last year?” I searched my memory, but couldn’t remember one gift, or maybe just one or two. I remember when I was 9 and got my first bicycle, and last year my husband gave me a watch, but for the most part, most of us don’t remember from year to year what we get.
I try to use the following guidepost for gift-giving when purchasing items for my children, even though they’re grown now.
- Buy something they need.
- Buy something they want.
- Buy something that reminds them of who they are.
- Buy something that reminds them of who Christ is.
They say we actually want experiences, not things (I guess that’s why advertisers spend billions persuading us to buy stuff). So take your children ice skating this year. Snuggle up with them on the couch and read The Christmas Carol.
Give them what they really want this year — undivided attention from you — no cell phones or other electronic devices allowed.
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