Do you remember what you were given for Christmas when you were nine, ten, in your teens or twenties? I don’t. Do your children remember the Christmas gifts from last year or the year before? The presents that cost a fortune that they just HAD to have?
If they don’t remember, if a few years later those gifts were insignificant, why do we rush to the shops and spend a fortune on presents that will be unwrapped, discarded and forgotten a month later? This year before you do this, before you buy every toy on their Christmas wish list, the video game, the merchandise from the latest movie, the cards from the current fad, consider a gift that might have meaning. Consider a gift that may not cost much, that will be fun and will last a lifetime.
Over the last few years, instead of buying presents for their birthday and Christmas, I give my children a gift of time. Time with me. I give them a day of my life, a day of fun, by themselves to do whatever it is they are passionate about. A gift of experience, time and memories. This is actually harder than buying a present from a shop yet much more rewarding. This gift requires organisation and logistics. It means friends or babysitters taking the siblings. It requires putting myself out and perhaps doing something I don’t really want to. It may mean driving a long way to fulfil their dream. However, the joy and fun of that day far out ways the effort and the memories stay with us all forever. My children still talk about their Christmas “day” present years later, because it is something special and meaningful for them. It is something they choose, plan and look forward to. It is time with their Mum doing whatever it is they really want to do.
These special days are the best in our year and often doing activities I otherwise would never have experienced. I have had the privilege of riding horses, attending a Big Bash cricket game (believe me I dreaded it, yet ended up having a fantastic night.) I have flying foxed through trees, slid down sand dunes, attended a musical, had a pajama sleepover with a midnight feast. I am sure this year will involve more cricket, laser tag and horse riding on the beach. What they perceive as a gift for them, is actually also a gift for me. It has enabled me to become closer to my children and to experience and share with them the things they are most passionate about.
My second gift at Christmas again doesn’t come from a shop, yet is their favourite present to unwrap. It is a photo book of their year gone by (usually highlighted by their fun Christmas day present.) It is their individual memories. It takes me time. I collaborate all the pictures of their year, their special moments and experiences and have them bound into a book. Whilst again, this is harder than paying for a toy, the effort is worth it. Throughout the year I find my children looking at them, showing their friends and talking about the adventures they had, the highlights of their lives. Unlike toys, they won’t grow out of them and they will keep these books forever.
My children don’t have the latest Pokemon game, play station or Wii games, however they do have fun and memories. Whilst your children may think what they want for Christmas is a brand new toy – perhaps it is because they don’t know what they could receive. The thing that is most precious to them – a little part of you.
Time is short. Time is precious. Instead of buying Christmas gifts this year that will be discarded and forgotten, give your children the greatest gift of all – give them memories, give them time. Give them you.