Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Traditions that I Treasure

Each year for Christmas, the kids each select gifts for their siblings.  The gifts are small in monetary value but big on thoughtfulness (and personally wrapped by each child ;)   To keep these gifts from getting just lumped in with the Santa gifts, we open these on a different day and usually try to make them the first gifts of the season that we open.  I love that the kids are more eager to give their gifts than they are to open.  
This quiet time together as a family has come to be one of my favorite Christmas traditions. 
And why not?
We get to experience expressions of pride like this one, as Girl 1 watched her little sister unwrap her carefully-selected gift .  .  .

and expressions of complete surprise and joy upon opening said gift . . .

and then big "thank you" hugs that take them both to the floor in giggles.

So each child ended up with a gift from each sibling and a pair of pajamas from Mom and Dad to wear on Christmas Eve.

John and I gave each other new running shoes.  I definitely look more excited, but I'm pretty sure he liked his, too.

Girl 2 and Daddy are hard at work on the LEGO monster truck she received from Little Boy.

Each year we do this I have the same thought:  this is enough. 

After just this small gift exchange, we had Barbies, LEGOS, trains, fuzzy armbands, craft projects, and coloring pages.  The kids were entertained for the rest of the evening.

And yet, this is only the beginning. 

Santa will come.  They'll get gifts from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, great-grandparents, Sunday School teachers, neighbors, etc..  I'm not saying that I wish to deprive my kids of all those gifts (or the givers the joy that comes from giving), but I am saying that's it's nice to have this small yearly reminder that it's all unnecessary.  Our kids were both delighted and entertained tonight.  But, more than that, they each take away a bit more from an experience like this than the 2 toys and pair of PJs they received.  They got to experience what it feels like to both love and be loved well.  What more could we ask of a Christmas gift exchange?

What holiday traditions do you most enjoy with your families?


  1. I felt that way too. We did our Christmas morning a few days early since we were traveling for actual Christmas, and our kids were perfectly content with what Santa brought along with a few gifts from Mom and Dad and relatives that came in the mail. We hadn't even begun to scratch the surface, and yet, I just wanted to stop. How do you keep it small and simple without stealing the "giving joy" from other family and friends? How do you explain to relatives that you don't want them to give gifts to your kids because it's just too much? I don't know. Your kids are older than mine, so how do you handle it?

    1. Hey, Em. Sorry it's taken me forever to get back to you. I wish I could say I'd nipped the whole Christmas-excess thing in the bud, but alas, it's still a problem for us, too. Thankfully, though, many of our relatives understand our desire to own fewer things in general and then only things that are useful, so they tend to stick to the lists we provide them for the kids. Putting things like funding for summer camps/activities, museum/zoo memberships, magazine subscriptions, or other experiences rather than things on the kids' wishlists is a fun idea that minimizes stuff. Of course, coupons for fun days/weekends with their favorite aunts/uncles/grands would go over big at our house, too. Anyway, those are just some ideas. The tendency to get caught up in the gimmes is such a natural one during the Christmas season. The only way I know to fight it is to redirect the kids' focus on the giving. Of course, that's what we were going for with this tradition. Good luck!