Every year around this time, we’re asked, “What do the kids want for Christmas?”
I’m glad to be asked, obviously. Our extended family has always been very kind and generous to our brood and considerate of us in preparing for the holidays. But every year, it’s challenging to get a list from the kids.
This year, one of the girls wanted a book from a series she enjoys and a Lego set. The other wanted a nature book and a new doll. The boy asked for a Transformer and a Ninja Turtles cartoon DVD. That was about it. In fact, they had a hard time coming up with this much. And they were thrilled when I suggested adding pajamas. (Yes, my kids are weird. And awesome.)
I wish I could say that this is because their little hearts are so full of the love of Christ that, recognizing him as their greatest treasure, they don’t feel they need anything else. That’s probably how you’d expect a post with a title like this one to go, right? But the truth is a bit less spiritual than that, though just as simple. The fact is, they’re just pretty reasonable kids. They don’t ask for a lot because they don’t really want a lot most of the time.
(Except to play the Wild Kratts games on the PBS Kids website. All. The. Time.)
That’s something I love about them, and something I want to continue to nurture in them. But how? Here are a couple ideas to give some sense of what we’re trying to do. The first is super-practical, the other is more ideological.
We use the “four somethings” filter. In general, we use the “something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read” method. We encourage books, but we don’t shy away from toys. We work together to look at what’s needed, along with thinking about fun things, too. These kinds of categories help all of us make wise decisions when we’re purchasing or asking for something. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been saved from a poor decision by running through them in a store.)
We try to model a “less is more” mindset. Emily and I don’t really buy a ton of stuff for ourselves, or even for one another. We don’t ask for gifts, though I will often get her a little something like some chocolate or a nice coffee beverage). This wasn’t what I was like as a kid, of course. I created many wildly unrealistic Christmas wishlists, and thought there was a legitimate chance of getting most of what was on them! (I didn’t understand how money worked. But as I gradually matured, and the Holy Spirit refined my attitude toward “stuff”, I stopped caring about getting gifts. So today, what Emily and I do is we try to give one another some space to just be by ourselves. For me, that usually means going to a coffee shop with a book or occasionally going to the movies alone. For Emily, it usually means going to a coffee shop. But since they don’t see us getting hyped up about gifts and whatnot, it only makes sense that they would follow suit. Although, they get super-psyched about going to the thrift store because their mom loves going there.
This is probably not terribly mind-blowing stuff, and no doubt more experienced parents would have some great advice to share (and if you do, please share it!). But for the moment this seems to work.