I remember how excited I was to write my Christmas Wish List and my anticipation that followed everyday until Christmas morning when I would realize what I got from my list.
I remember drinking Mexican hot chocolate and singing Christmas Carols with my family the night before Christmas. We’d each get to open one small gift. At the end of the night, my brother’s and I would leave a glass of milk and some cookies for Santa Clause. I remember every year we’d wake up around 5am (oh my poor Mom!) to see if Santa had come and sure enough – the cookies and milk were gone and our Stockings were filled. Once we confirmed that Santa had been to our visit we’d go back to sleep for another couple of hours and then get up to open up all of our gifts.
I have such fond memories of the holidays. It was never about the gifts. We didn’t have a lot of money (but I didn’t know this until I was older) because my Mom always managed to buy us each a handful of gifts that she new we’d love. I so enjoyed opening my presents and I appreciated each and every one. I look back and realize that what I loved most was spending time with my family. Being around each other and laughing.
I want my little girl to have these same memories and appreciations. I don’t want her to grow up thinking the holidays are about gifts. And that the bigger the gift is, the better. I want her to associate the holidays with family. There is part of me that wants to give Reese the things that I didn’t have like lots of fancy expensive gifts but I know that is not in her best interest.
I want Reese to get to make her own gift wish lists with the understanding that it’s a “wish list” and she will not get everything on the list. I’ve seen her reaction when she receives a gift. Her face lights up and her eyes widen with curiosity. Mostly she smiles with appreciation and I don’t ever want this to change. I want her to “want” for things. As she gets older this will be important.
I can manage how much my husband and I buy for her during the holidays but how do you manage family? For starters I created an Amazon Wish List for Reese. Nathalee, awesome suggestion! I shared this with the grandparents and family. I also explained to Reese’s grandparents that she doesn’t need a lot (not to mention we don’t have much more space in our city condo). And I reminded them that just this month Reese received the last of her Christmas and Channukah gifts from 2010. (She got so much last year that I stocked a lot of the gifts away and gave them out during the year).
I know I can’t control what others buy her, but I can greatly influence what Reese learns to value and shape some of her memories. The holidays are about family, giving, laughter, appreciation and love. And gifts are a distant second to all of this.
What do the holidays mean to you?