articles / Family life

Checking off the list

It is now less than 24 days until Christmas. Black Friday sales are long gone. Small business Saturday is over and the purchases from Cyber Monday will soon be filled and sent.

Christmas is a stressful time for many, but it can be especially stressful if your wants are bigger than your wallet. In my last post about Christmas shopping I said that in our household we stick to “something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read”. We did this last year and the year before. This year we stuck to this for the most part. After buying the four gifts that fit the above description, I still found a few things that I wanted for the kids.

We always get little things for their stockings. Last year Josiah got a new electric toothbrush, character bath soap and a kiddie shaving kit. This year he’s getting color tablets for the tub, bath stuff, and a leather wallet that I got at a thrift store for $2. You can’t beat a $2 deal.

I also found a wood kitchen set (stove/oven, sink with underneath storage…I’ll post more about that later) that was in ugly condition at a thrift store. I got is for $20. It took about $10 to fix it up and a bit of elbow grease. The result is an awesome looking kitchen set that could be worth about $75 or more and it’ll last longer than the plastic ones for $50 at Toys R Us.

I’m also planning on sewing a superhero cape and mask for Josiah and possibly a hat or socks that will stay on for Samuel. By the time we’re finished Josiah and Samuel will end up with way more gifts than the four allotted gifts we initially planned on. The thing is, that’s OK. It’s not that I don’t want my kids to have lots of presents on Christmas or that I think gifts overshadow the reason for the season (Jesus).

Reason #1 for limiting spending and limiting buying toys is because many parents make themselves go broke or put themselves into credit card debt to buy toys and stuff that will be forgotten and gone before it’s paid off. This teaches bad money spending habits for the children and the adult. Things are nice to have, but when we put ourselves in such a bind to get things we put too much value on those things.

Reason #2 to make sure my kids are always appreciative and content with what they have. I want them to be able to survive without the latest gadget and most expensive toys out there. I want them to be just as happy with 2 toys as they are with 15 toys.

Reason #3 is I want them to stay imaginative. Many toys inhibit creativity or simply don’t encourage it at all. I want to scale back on all the expensive toys with tons of pieces and want to focus on encouraging learning and creativity.

Josiah is going to love the new kitchen set he’s getting and it will encourage tons of play and it was super inexpensive. A superhero cape will cost me next to nothing, but it will spark hours of play and memories for Josiah. That’s what I want. I want Josiah to remember the Christmas that he got the kitchen set Mom and Dad worked so hard on to perfect. I can’t wait to see Josiah pose for pictures in his superhero getup.

Money doesn’t equal memories. Things don’t equal fun or happiness. Most kids would be happy with the little things. Josiah told me the other day that I was the best mom in the world because I gave him a pair of footie pajamas. He acted like I’d just given him the world.

I won’t spend a lot of money this Christmas, but I will have spent tons of time and effort trying to put together the perfect gift for those that I love.

Some people choose 3 gifts for the three gifts the wise men gave, some people do some version of the “something you ****”, and some people set a dollar amount and stick to it. Whatever your method, make sure it works for you and the gifts you buy convey the message you want to send.

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