I have memories of getting two gifts growing up. For my sixth birthday my parents got me my first bike. It was white with pink hearts and I’ll never forget that moment of getting my first real bike and learning how to ride it with my dad.
I also remember my parents giving my sister and I the most beautiful dollhouse for Christmas one year. They spent many evenings building this gift.
It was incredibly detailed with tiny cedar shingles, a bay window and all the walls were even covered in wallpaper. It was amazing and my sister and I spent many hours playing with. In fact, my mom kept it and I hope one day that my daughters can play with it.
All of our birthdays and Christmases growing up were always joyful celebrations and full of gifts. Our Christmas trees (and our grandparents’ Christmas trees) were always surrounded by presents. There was never a lack of gifts to go around.
However, at my age now I can only remember two distinct gifts from my childhood. That’s it … two. Sorry, mom and dad.
It wasn’t that they didn’t give me stuff, they did. And I’m sure they put a lot of thought into it (or at least my mom did, my dad was always equally surprised when we opened our presents.) But for whatever reason, none of it seems to stick in my mind.
This is why I struggle with what to get my children for Christmas. I want to give them meaningful gifts they will remember. But they are so young, they likely won’t at this age.
At one point are we giving gifts or just giving stuff? Like material things. I want to make memories.
Or am I just thinking too much into it? It is so fun to open presents and watch our children rip open gifts. The joy on their faces, even if it only lasts a little while, is so worth it.
But their toy boxes (yes, plural) are overflowing. The “it” toy that we searched all over for and bought our daughter last year is already broken and probably collecting dust somewhere. While she was so excited for it last year, she has completely forgotten about it already. We gave her a moment of joy, and that was amazing but now this toy will likely sit in a landfill for a hundred years.
This year, my husband and I have decided to buy each of our girls one toy, one book and a pair of fun pjs. I’m also hoping to encourage relatives to get the girls memories instead of toys.
My daughter would love to get a gift certificate for her first manicure and go on a date with one of her aunts. She would also love someone to take her to the movies or even just out for lunch.
Making memories is way more important and way more special than a gift. It can also be more environmentally friendly and maybe even more economic. A promise of a spring time picnic, a day of horseback riding or an afternoon of tobogganing with hot chocolate are all great gift ideas.
I’ve also heard of people buying subscriptions as gifts. This is a great idea, there are fantastic kid magazines out now and sticker clubs and all kinds of different types of memberships.
Children love getting mail, it could be the gift that keeps on giving. Let’s not go into debt or fill our landfills this season, instead let’s make memories.
Marisca Bakker writs for the Smithers Interior News.