Well, today is about donating and preparing the house for another round of gifting. I am sort of like a hoarder, not quite as bad as those people featured on reality TV, but if I see a good buy, I don’t just buy one item at a good price, I buy about twenty items! So, every year at Christmas time, I feel the need to gut the house and prepare for the new items that will arrive. I am headed to my favorite donation spot this morning–JUBILEE MINISTRIES. I donate here because the profits benefit so many people,and the group is a religious affiliation.
Every year donating causes me to stop and wonder why in the world I cannot break my hoarding and spending habits. I look at the items and notice that they are like new. That’s great for the recipients at the thrift shop, but not so great for my wallet or bank account. If you probably haven’t guessed, I am also a mother who struggles with the word “No.” I have indeed improved in this area but not as much as I need to. I love my girls with all my heart, but I do feel at times that I have done a poor job of instilling into their hearts the true meaning of Christmas. When I look at other kids who surround my own at school, my heart breaks. And then when my two girls present an ungrateful attitude toward my husband or myself, I tend to question my parenting. Please do not think my girls are horrible beings; they are kids. To everyone outside of the home, they are AMAZING!! I have talked to many parents who experience what I have described. We, meaning my husband and myself–throw in the grandparents too!– have created such privileged kids that they have come to EXPECT what they receive from us.
So, a few years ago, we did start a new gift giving tradition in hopes of changing their attitudes a bit and clearing out our cluttered home. Now, allow me to explain: Both of our mothers are clutter freaks. Their homes are stacked with collected items. And, guess what? At Christmas time, they buy just to buy. No real thought goes into the items they bring into our home. If the girls ask for it, it is bought. My mom will say since she was poor as a kid and only received ONE gift every Christmas, she now believes kids should have a Christmas bonanza. My husband’s mother just tries to keep up with mine. So, we have the two of them to fill our home with trinkets and odds and ends.
Two years ago our oldest daughter wanted a lap top computer. My husband is an APPLE guy through and through. So, that is the only type of lap top he would even consider. The price tags on those are not cheap, but an idea sprang into our minds. If we buy the oldest the lap top, the youngest could have a trip with a friend. We chose GREAT WOLF LODGE in the Poconos and selected our youngest daughter’s best friend at the time. The oldest was still able to also enjoy the water park, but she did not have a friend. The three girls got along wonderfully well, and we had a blast. When we returned home, our daughter created the most amazing computer projects–win-win for us. We had a water park movie, slide show, and movie trailer to remember the trip.
The next Christmas, no one asked for any big tech toys. Both girls did want the latest ipod, but my mom covered that one. So, my husband and I planned a two-night trip to Washington, D.C. Our girls learned so much on that trip. We visited the Vietnam War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, The White House, The Washington Monument, The Jefferson Memorial, The Washington Zoo and as many museums as we could squeeze into the time we had remaining. We also allowed the girls to buy small mementos to remember the trip, and I took a ton of pictures.
When we returned, my oldest made a D.C. movie using her computer and imovie. I made various-sized Apple photo books on my computer and purchased those as gifts. I also sent New’Year’s cards made with our D.C. pictures rather than the traditional Christmas card. The tradition had begun, and we were loving every minute of it. The house looked great; our nerves were calm; and best of all, the girls were learning and enjoying it.
This year, our youngest asked for the lap top, and our oldest selected a friend to join her at Great Wolf Lodge. We also decided that we would start to buy a Christmas tree ornament on every trip. Out old theme was babyish; we still had Barney and Sesame Street! So, our new Christmas tradition has worked wonders for us in so many ways. In addition, we have created new family traditions that all of us absolutely love. So, if you are tired of the Christmas clutter and nonsensical (I think this is a real word and not from Seussville!) gift items, try to start new traditions with your family. You don’t even have to do the trip part. Be creative, and do what works for your crew.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them. I welcome any and all comments, and would love to really start connecting with people.