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15 December 2010

Significant gifts? (part one)

My friend's truck needs a new engine, so she will be with us until Monday or Tuesday.  I'm happy for us and sad for her.  

I fell asleep last night about midnight, as was awake this AM at 5.30.  What is up with that?  I do NOT need to be awake this early!  Sleep deprivation isn't fun!

This year seems to me to be an accumulation of several years of discomfort for me about a particular issue. 

Duane's family (well, his step-family) is rather affluent.  His step siblings and cousins were raised with a lifestyle that . . . i don't even know how to say this.  They got a lot of things.  They didn't seem to give consideration to anyone else (like helping provide Christmas to some family that doesn't have much).  Now there are grandkids (Duane's cousins' & siblings' children) between the ages of 4 and 13, and those kids get a mountain of presents every year.  Essentially, every adult gives every one of the kids something.  

The adults do not do this.  They have a gift exchange with gag gifts and a $20 gift card attached.  

I have had issues with this for a long time now.  But i feel rather caught in the undertow.  We don't have kids (so i haven't the right to criticize).  It is Duane's step-family.  They give us nice things.  We want to reciprocate.  But it also feels so futile.  We can't afford to give each of the kids (7 of them) expensive gifts.  And they get so many things that whatever we give them seems to just get snowed under the rest.  

I've made suggestions in the past that we adopt a family and help them, but the idea doesn't pull any favor.  Duane's aunt said to me "Oh, we all do that.  But it is fun to give the kids things, too."  By "we all do that" she means the older generation - the aunts - do support needy children.  But i think she is missing the fact that Duane's peers and the grandchildren don't see that happening.  What is more, the "needy children" are in another country, so these kids never see that there is need within a mile or two of where they live.

Ok, enough rant.  That is the back story.  I'm not going to be able to change the system.  But i've really struggled with what to give these kids.  In some ways i'm as sad for them as for the kids who don't get anything.  

Duane and i have stopped attending the family holiday party.  They stopped having it on Christmas Eve, and (it seems to us) they've stopped really celebrating Christ and have dropped into a "give me, give me" thing.  This family group that always celebrated Christ on Christmas Eve with the nativity story has begun having Santa come to the parties.  (You can imagine how well that went over with my anti-Santa husband.)  Last year i sent the gifts for the kids (books, but really nice ones) to the party with Duane's mom.  Duane didn't want me to do this (feeling i was "supporting" the party of which we do not approve), but i didn't want the hassle of trying to get the gifts to the kids individually.  

I'm thinking that this will probably be the last year that we do this gift thing.  I don't know how to bow out gracefully, but i need to find a way.  However, in the meantime, i'm stuck with trying to think of a gift for these kids.  I'd like it to be something significant.

So this is what i came up with.  I'm going to give each of the kids a small paper box of blank cards, some extra paper and a bunch of stickers and let them make their own cards to send to people.  I'm going to make each of them a Christmas card that is kind of a sample card of how they might make their own.

What is more, rather than send these to the holiday party, i'm going to mail them individually to the kids.   I remember as a kid how fun it was to receive something in the mail and how rarely it happened.  

Does this mean our gift will be "significant"?  I doubt it.  I'm not even sure what that would be for children who have everything.  But i do think it will be unique and stand out and maybe it will be a fun thing for them.  

I was going have this "how to" now, but this post is already long.  I think i'll do a second "part two" with pics (that i've not loaded from the camera yet) later. 



That corgi :) said...

I like your idea with the make their own cards. Got to feel sorry for those kids, makes you wonder when is enough enough? In our family, among my two siblings, several years we decided (mainly on my insistence) to give gifts in their names to each other's favorite charities. I really liked that. I wanted hubby to try that with his family, but they are the affluent ones and I think he didn't think it would go well,never suggested it, and now we are de-cluttering his parents' house filled with useless junk we got them just so they would have a gift from us. Makes no sense to me. I rather help the child that won't get anything, I think you are the same. The best gift I gave one year to my family was write each of them a letter of how much I appreciated them and their qualties. I'm glad I did it; it was the last Christmas my mom was alive.


Lorie said...

I understand. Our family is exactly like that. One year I made rag dolls and clothes for each of the girls. 7 of them. They were pulled from the wrapping and thrown on the floor in favor of the electronic gadgets. One little one even said, "ew - I don't want that! Where's my gameboy?"

Anyway, I think your gift idea is excellent. It will also help that they will receive it individually at a time when it is not just one thing in a mountain of other things.

This year we finally told everyone we are not doing gifts. It is such a relief!

Dawn said...

I think it is a wonderful idea, Katee! You are giving them a gift of time and thought and love, and it encourages their creativity.

It also will help them develop writing skills.

I think it is marvelous! Send it out with love and God's Blessing and this seed be planted to be reaped in the fullness of His Time.


Cheryl Ann said...

Last year our family got together and agreed to ONLY buy presents for the grandson. NOTHING for the adults and our grown children. We are doing it again this year as we are all feeling the economic crunch.