I had an interesting discussion with my co-worker yesterday about teaching our children about the spirit of Christmas giving. Her kids, ages 13 and 15, were spending the 23rd out shopping with their dad, looking for the perfect gift for each other and for their mom (my co-worker).
My kids, ages 6 and 8, do not shop for each other or for us. I remember being a child and buying presents for my parents and my sister, but don't remember at what age we started doing that. I distinctly remember the year I bought my dad a hammer. I wrapped the box so carefully and it turned out gorgeous, with perfectly angled corners and a ribbon tied just so. I couldn't wait to give it to him, but as I carried it to the tree I realized it was lighter than it should be. I had forgotten to put the hammer in the box! And I didn't want to ruin my wrapping job and re-wrap it.
On Christmas morning, I handed Dad the box to open -- he joked about how light it felt and wondered if there was a gift inside. Little did he know there wasn't! He opened it, searched in the tissue paper for a while, and then I ran upstairs and got the present out from under my bed while the family laughed. It was the most memorable gift he received that morning. (At least to me it was.)
I don't remember the shopping excursions, and in most cases I don't remember the gifts I gave others. But I remember the stories like that one which fills the years with fond memories of Christmas.
Are we depriving our children of this same joy by not teaching them yet to give to others?
Yet I feel like they already have that spirit.
Every day for the past week and a half they've been coming home from school with various "treasures." Usually these treasures are of the paper kind, little love notes and drawings that they made especially for us. Marissa made a photo frame with a picture of her in it that she could not WAIT for me to open, so we didn't.
I've always told the kids that the best things they could give us are the homemade things, not something that comes from a store.
On Black Friday this year consumers spent $52.4 billion to kick off the holiday season. That's billion with a "b." Imagine the good that money could have done if we had spent it on something other than ourselves.
I think I'm okay that they aren't buying presents for others yet.