Dear beloved friends and family,
My life is a mess.
The dishes aren’t done.
The laundry is never-ending. Literally.
I haven’t vacuumed in weeks.
I’m ashamed of the state of my bathroom.
And there are toys…
So, please, pretty please, as you are thinking of how much you love us and how much you appreciate us this holiday season, and you’re sitting all cozy in your office chair with your mug of hot chocolate with half-melted marshmallows clinging for life on the side of your red and white “Peace and Joy” mug, don’t make a list of the toys you think my kids would like for Christmas. We appreciate the sentiment. We really, really do.
However, my kids don’t need more toys. They need you.
I’m not saying that to prevent you from spending money on my kids in an effort to be humble. I’m not saying that to be modest. I’m being completely honest here.
I know how much fun it is to see the kids unwrap things and be joyous and play with whatever it is you just gave them, but I promise that if you give them something more long lasting than that toy, they will appreciate it much more, and so will I, and so will my living room. Give them tickets to their favorite sporting event or a concert or to see a movie they’ve been dying to see and go with them. Give them a coupon that they can redeem to go to the zoo or Disney on Ice or a fun museum or Legoland with you. Promise them a trip with you to a fun new place for a weekend filled with fun, and if you feel like you have to give them something, let it be sunglasses, a new suitcase, or something specifically for the trip. Buy them a class or two (or a whole semester if that’s your thing) where they can learn a new skill or a new activity like dancing or painting or cooking or how to play an instrument and then ask them to demonstrate for you their new skill or to teach you or (even better) sign up to participate with them! It doesn’t have to be something big. Take them out for ice cream. Take them to the Y to go swimming. Take them to the library (it’s free). No matter what you choose, be involved because that is what they will remember.
Because do you think I can remember any of the things I got for Christmas (or even a birthday or any other special holiday or event) from my grandparents or my parents’ friends or even my own friends as a child? No. Do you know what I do remember? I remember the look on my Dad’s face when he discovered we’d bought him a ride on a WW2 B17 bomber airplane for Christmas a few years ago. I remember the dates I had with my husband and my son this past year that were made possible because we were given gift cards to restaurants and the movies at Christmastime for just that purpose. I remember my Godmother taking me shopping for my birthday when I was 13. We spent the entire day together having lunch, talking, and she bought me new clothes. I remember that day. I remember her. I don’t remember what clothes she bought me.
Activities, travel, experiences, time together: those are what build character and build memories: the best gifts of all.
And if you just have to buy them something to unwrap, let it be a favorite necessity or a practical yet fun need: gorgeous new cloth diapers, cozy wool longies or play woolies, delicious smelling baby wash, cute snack bags, buttery soft swaddling blankets, cute but warm baby leggings, some comfy new slippers, a beautiful and functional amber necklace or some new teethers to relieve teething pain, or even a fun new bag, lunchbox, or bib.
So, please. Pretty please, don’t add to my mess of a life. Take my kid and go make some memories, and give me a chance to breathe or clean my house or even take a shower without being interrupted a thousand times by my adorable (but needy) kids.
Your overworked, underpaid, exhausted, and probably-smelly-because-I-need-a-shower
Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s post, the beginning of our December series Tuesday Treasures, where we explore the world of giving this Christmas by giving back to the things we treasure most.
6 thoughts on “Time Not Toys”
Our youngest kid’s favorite birthday present this year was a trip to a restaurant with one of her older brothers.
We told our kiddos all gifts this year have to be an experience or hand-made.
Time is so much more precious than plastic.
Well said, Beck!
Interesting. I agree with everything you say about gift giving, but I have to say the “cozy in your office chair” reference stopped me up short. A rather romanticized notion of office life! I feel frazzled all. the. time. from working a high-pressure office job that takes me away constantly from my family and makes me squeeze in cleaning, laundry and family time on nights and weekends. Working an office job doesn’t make my life “cozy.” It makes me twice as frazzled.
When I created that visual, I was picturing my dad, who spends a lot of time in his office chair when he’s at home. He loves to order things off of Amazon instead of shopping in big box stores. I was trying to reference family members who were relaxing at home at the end of the day, not people who were at work shopping online, and I was in no way trying to imply that people who work in offices have a relaxed and picturesque life! I used to work in insurance. I know that’s not the case! Sorry for the confusion!