Thursday, September 3, 2009

Christmas is coming

Only 113 days until Christmas, the front page of my newspaper promises in 48-point or so black type, with a photo of a big box with a bow prominent on the page.

Usually, I’d just shrug my shoulders at such “news.” I’ve typically been the joke of the family for having the audacity to have my shopping wrapped up around this time of year.

Not so much now. Our financial situation means that any shopping has been minimal at best and any shopping we will do will be spaced out even more than usual.

Add in the challenge of shopping not only for Christmas but my youngest’s birthday less than a week before, and it’s a fiscal nightmare.

Sure, I’ve tried to be proactive, dropping big hints lately that our toddler will need clothes for next summer, when the seasonal sales are wrapping up. And I always reassure my sister that shoes for the kids really aren’t boring, that both of mine could theoretically match Almeda Marcos in the love of a colorful pair of shoes. Or I recommend books they’ve loved at the library or activities they enjoy. (If anyone wants to spring for soccer for next spring at the parks and rec, I'm all for it!) But I can’t shake the feeling that we’ll be swimming in a sea of plastic come Christmas day.

The practical parents in us decided early on that the kids would get three presents from us at Christmas – it was good enough for Jesus, and frankly, we're not the only ones the gifts would be coming from. And so far, we’ve been able to brainstorm ideas for the oldest fairly easily. Her wishes for this year? Among them are dress-up clothes (easy enough to come up with at a resale shop) and, more interestingly, for her kitchen: “a greasy spoon for my pretend greasy eggs.” Frankly, not sure how to address that one. And we hit the back-to-school sales hard for new art supplies for her as well.

But the baby – can I still call him that as he approaches 2? – is a challenge. Sure, he loves to comment on every truck and bus he sees. But how many of those can you possibly buy, especially when you have a half-dozen cars you’re already tripping on that were his sister’s? Or when he loves to play with her kitchen, stroller, balls and toys as much as she does? Or when you practically step on a new Lego "creation" everywhere you turn?

Maybe I’m weird or old-fashioned, but I think gifts should be as much as about fun as they are about being useful. And not useful in the “let’s buy socks and underwear” sense as in buying things people will truly appreciate and use.

So I’ll throw it out to you. Any suggestions for the practical mom who needs to start planning for those special dates now? How do you treat your children without spoiling them too much?


The Mom said...

Last year my family tried to have an all handmade Christmas. In the end it was just my Mom and I that did it, but it was still fun. My daughter got handsewn doll clothes and knit blankets for her dolls as well. Both kids got knit hats, scarves and mittens. It was fun.

Robbie said...

All-handmade is pretty impressive! I'm hoping you don't have large family!

One of the best things I made (and pretty easy, too) was for my daughter's "big sister" party when we came home from the hospital. I converted one of those bedding-in-a-bag bags into a child-size diaper bag. Nearly 2 years later, she still loves to tote around her flannel pink "purse!"

Steph @ Greening Families said...

One of my kids favorite gifts is the opportunity to select a charity we will support. Frankly we started this because we thought it would be "good for them" and were surprised that they loved it so much. We've donated both money and time to groups so it doesn't have to cost you anything.

CRH said...

I know this is a bit off topic but, it may help tie in the "old fashioned simple christmas" idea. One year we decorated our tree with nothing but popcorn and cranberry garland wich my boys then 4& 6 helped make, and tied strips of old fabric to some of the branches of the tree. I think back know and I loved that tree!!! You could even make some cinnamon and applesauce ornaments to give to friends and family, or salt dough ornaments??? Made by the kids would be sentimental!!! Good Luck

Robbie said...

I love the ideas of doing something for others - no matter what, we've tried to do some kind of Santa gift through the tree at church - it's something tangible the kids can connect with. Neither are quite old enough for service-type things just yet, unfortunately.

I like the idea of handmade ornaments too. The kids love being crafty so I will have to check out instructions for those!