I’ll admit that when it comes to giving Christmas gifts to my children and grandchildren, something inside compels me to find the “perfect” gift. I know that the gift doesn’t exist and intellectually I understand that it doesn’t represent my love for them, but still – the voice is there whispering ‘make their Christmas really special this year.’ I’m a mom and I want to make my kids happy. And you do the same.
Fortunately for me, I’ve had scores of Christmases with my children and now that they are grown, they can tell me what gifts meant the most to them and which they’ve forgotten. If you are a mother like I am, listen to their wisdom. Here are the “gifts” they felt had a positive, warm impact on them growing up.
Great Gift #1: Giving Together
My kids weren’t alone in experiencing Christmas joy when they worked with my husband and me to buy, wrap and deliver gifts to strangers. They loved having our family work as a team and got excited trying to figure out what a boy or girl whom they had never met might delight in finding under their tree at Christmas. Best of all, they liked taking the gifts to the children.
Great Gift #2: Reading the story of Christ’s birth from Luke’s gospel on Christmas Eve.
This was a tradition my husband started and while we all knew the story well, every year it seemed fresh and brand new. The six of us sat together in the quiet of the living room and listened while one of us read. This took about 10 minutes. But each of those minutes felt packed with warmth, comfort, and hope. Want an even better idea? Read together for 10 minutes each night of Advent. Your kids won’t want to at first, but once they get used to it, they won’t want to stop.
Great Gift #3: Being welcomed home.
When our kids grew older and went off to college, they loved arriving home for Christmas. This may sound trite, but it isn’t. My husband and I worked hard to prepare for them so that they would know we anticipated their arrival. We cooked and cleaned, put lights up and tried to give the gift of opening our home up to say you are wanted here. We had been waiting for them. We cleared our work schedules, put flowers on their bedside tables and made a few batches of their favorite cookies. Any mother can show her kids she is anxious to be with them and any father can express anticipation and welcome – whether kids are coming home from school the day before Christmas break or from a friend’s house. This Christmas, try giving your kids the gift of feeling welcomed home. Warning: this will mean that you must give up your own distractions and focus on them.
Traditions anchor children and give them a sense of security, belonging and attachment to family.
Great Gift #4: Coupon books redeeming our time with them.
Sometimes we exchanged coupon books for a lunch date with one of us, a trip alone to the park, a bike ride or a movie. Our kids loved “special time” with each of us and the purpose of the coupon book was to allow them to pick and choose when they wanted time alone with us.
Great Gift #5: A few simple traditions.
Children love traditions passed from year to year. They anchor them and give them a sense of security, belonging and attachment to family. Very simple traditions like cinnamon rolls and a fire lit in the fireplace on Christmas morning connected our kids to being young again. One of our favorite Christmas traditions has been having Meeker-Mann dinners together. Our family has long been close to the Mann family. Our kids get along well, as do the adults. Best of all, our kids say that they felt very close to the Mann parents growing up and that this gave them a deeper sense of security. As our kids grew up and left for college or careers, they, in fact, are the driving forces behind continuing our Meeker-Mann dinners as long as we can. Tradition in sharing a meal with loved ones keeps each one of us attached to what is good and true. Friends matter. Family matters, and this no more poignant than at any holiday except Christmas. Our kids are the ones who now fly or drive home to make the Meeker-Mann dinner because it was/is so special to them. Nurturing your children in relationships that last a lifetime is like giving them gold. I have no doubt that our annual dinners with our dear friends changed in some small way who each of our kids has grown up to become.
From your child’s vantage point, time with you is the best gift going.
You can’t buy any of these on your Amazon prime account and that’s a good thing. None of these will cost you money, but they are priceless, and will cost you something else – your time. And from your child’s vantage point, time with you is the best gift going.
This year, take a leap of faith and give your kids what they really want.