I know that ironically, this is among the First WorldProblems that I described last Friday, however, I’ve had a very difficult time deciding what to get my children for Christmas this year.

Typically, we’ve gotten a few smaller presents (books, games and clothes) and taken them to the local arena to see the Monster Trucks.  Puck is nine now, and not so interested in Monster Trucks any more.  Flower did enjoy them when we went, but it’s really not her thing.  And Bae’s just not old enough to be into them yet.

I was raised Catholic, but consider myself to be an agnostic.  Still, I’m trying to instill some basic Christian values into my children.  I want them to learn about the value of giving of themselves.  I want them to be thankful for the priviledged lives they lead.  I want them to think about others.

They have more than enough toys.  We have enough Lego in our home to construct another house.  We have princess stuff up the wazoo.  And with hand-me-downs, Bae is set for toys at this point until he’s at least ten.

I know some parents who try to outdo themselves every year (my ex falls in that category).  I’m not interested in being in competition for better parent by buying bigger and better gifts.  I think, like Thanksgiving, that Christmas should be a time for reflection of all the things that we do have – and about how many people don’t have that luxury.

The children’s school has a charitable gift giving program – and we’ve been tasked with getting a gift for a 10 year old girl and a mother this year.  The children will have input into what types of gifts we should get (although the school has pretty much directed that mom is going to get a grocery store gift card).  We’ve also had and will continue to have the discussions around helping others and the fact that we’re very privileged – especially at Christmas time – to have more than others.  A portion of their allowance is put aside for a charity of their choice.  I want giving to be a part of who they are – because although their father considers himself to be a Christian, he doesn’t hold those values or try to instill them in the kids.  I believe that charity begins at home.

Even so, as a child, I looked forward to opening presents on Christmas morning with my parents (and once my parents divorced, with my mother).  I want my children to have similar memories.

Hubs and I have had several discussions on this topic.  The grandparents are also looking for hints.  And we don’t want them to get gifts that the children don’t really need either.  Our suggestions to family this year have been to give the children expereiences instead of material items.  Memories over consumption.

Hubs’ dad will be gifting the children a trip to the local aquarium.  Opa is a volunteer at the zoo (we go there regularly), and he knows so much about animals.  The kids enjoy spending time with him – and it will be a change of pace to learn about aquatic life over zoo animals.

My mother and I will be combining our gifts to the children.  We’re going to take them to an indoor waterpark a couple of hours south of us and stay the weekend with my sister and my niece.  It will be a nice winter break from what promises so far to be a cold an unforgiving winter.

I’m hoping that giving my children fond memories of time with their family will help them to stay grounded and not expect material gratification at Christmas time.

What about you?  How do you try to instill a giving attitude in your children?  Do you believe in giving year round?

Maybe Christmas Doesn't Come from a Store Quote Livebysurprise
Image Credit:  (Edited) “Girl On Christmas Shopping Spree” by Stuart Miles

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