Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Confessions


(What is it about the holiday season that can induce so many feelings of guilt and inadequacy?)

1. I am a terrible gift-giver.

I want to give gifts that are perfect, treasured, surprising, purchased locally (or handmade), and either shockingly inexpensive or sacrificially expensive—gifts that tell the recipients: I know you, and you are loved. That isn’t asking too much, is it?

Now, for some people (I personally know a few) this is their gift. (Pun intended.) They scout and hunt and cross rivers and mountains for months to come up with that precious, perfect, surprising thing. Or they whip up some creative magic and voila!

I am not that person.

2. I don’t shop locally.

Actually, I don’t shop much at all. And when I do shop, I usually have four kids in tow. Three boys and a toddler. Yeah, we don’t go into pretty shops much.

I think this one induces the most guilt. After all, I used to co-own a local shop that depended on the loyalty of customers willing to make the effort instead of buying at Target or online. And willing to pay a little more for atmosphere.

Guess where I shop?

Costco. Target. Old Navy. Amazon.

Yep. That’s it. Oh, and the grocery store when I can’t find what I need at Costco (or if I don’t want the mega-size they offer).

3. I don’t think toys are magical.

Are you one of those parents who gets as excited about toys as your children, who are overjoyed to receive them? In the past year, two of my friends went to the effort to purchase gifts for my children for the sole purpose of fulfilling my children’s dreams. They are the type of people who are able to see things with the eyes of a child.

I buy books.

Maybe it is because I’ve been at this parenting gig long enough to see toy after toy abandoned within days (sometimes hours) and piled up in a room with no space. Or games pulled out and pieces scattered without the game ever being played. When the budget is small, the house is small, and the child’s interest (in playing or cleaning up) is small, why buy toys?

Do your kids play with toys? My boys aren’t big toy-players. Our family must be an anomaly because my boys don’t even like Legos. They do enjoy Playmobil, so that is one collection that we keep handy in a big bin. They also have gotten a lot of use out of the tunics and cloaks my mom made them for Christmas last year, so we have a second bin for dress-up/costume stuff. Other than that, most of their toys are in the attic.

So how do I approach Christmas shopping?

Amazon Prime is a lifesaver. It takes the stress out of Christmas gifts. I can “shop” in snatches of time for a huge variety of items. I can view wish lists. I can create wish lists. I can make small orders here and there. I can order the week before Christmas. I don’t pay shipping.

My extended family creates Amazon wish lists and we draw names among the adults.

We don’t spend a lot on Christmas gifts, especially toys.

I purchase gifts for the people on my list, and I’m thrilled if a couple are “it” gifts. I have a couple “it” gifts this year. That makes me happy.

My boys are all getting books. Luckily they love books. (If only they could savor them just a bit longer!) We are getting the Oliver Twist (Radio Theatre) production as a family gift, as well.


One of the gifts I’m excited about is a book/toy combination. I’ve purchased The Littlest Matryoshka for Lola and got Matryoshka Nesting Dolls to go with the book. Honestly, I think even the boys are going to enjoy sharing these with her. They are just plastic nesting dolls, but I really think she’ll love putting them together and taking them apart. (I thought about getting these Mini Owl Matryoshkas, but I think we’ll wait and see if she enjoys the first set.)

The gift that could go either way (a hit or a disaster) is the 8 Note Hand Bells set I purchased for the kids. We’ve watched a couple hand bell choirs lately, and it is quite the fascinating experience. I had the opportunity to play in one years ago. This could be a great family project that fosters unity and harmony…or serious discord. I’ll try not to set my expectations too high. {wry grin} I also purchased the book of Hymns for 8 Note Bells (with CD). We’ll see how it goes.

(Don’t feel too sorry for my boys, toy-lovers. I know they will be getting some fun things from the grandparents.)


Do you enjoy Christmas shopping?


Do you have any gifts you are particularly excited to give this year?


Mandi @ Life Your Way said...

Our CC director and her family played this set of hand bells for their family presentation a couple of weeks ago, and it was awesome; I think you'll love them!

Anonymous said...

Love reading your posts. Our boys do not really like Legos either. Phew, I always thought we were the only ones (they do like Playmobil).

And a bunch of new books under the tree sounds fabulous!

Mindy said...

I enjoy giving gifts when I happen upon something I know would be just perfect for someone. They love it and I love giving it. It's when I HAVE to come up with something to give just to be giving a gift that can take the fun out of it. My mom shops for Christmas all year long but I did not inherit that gene...

As for the books - best gifts ever!

Whitney said...

I enjoy doing the whole gift thing and I LOVE toys - I see ones that I want to seriously play with all the time! And I'm one of those obnoxious people that plans and shops months in advance.

However, I am not:
1) a wrapper. Tape and paper and I'm done.
2) a baker. I bought a premade gingerbread house and called it good. Homemade cookies!? Uh, no.
3) A fancy cook. I cook simple meals and leave it at that. Even for holidays.
4) a host. I am not good at it and my house is too small. I don't do it.

Do what you're good at, and don't worry about the rest.

Windhover Farm said...

I'm very with you on this one. Except maybe the shopping locally bit. I just don't like seeing our local retailers going under and I know it's bad for a vibrant economy. But shopping with four under tow is next to impossible and I don't have a good solution. With a smile I say, I've always found watching hand bell choirs a little stressful.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

My children quickly abandon most toys. They don't like matchbox cars. I thought they would like Playmobil (I did) but they prefer Legos.

Books are huge. They love books. And Scotch tape (I think Ezrom would be thrilled to receive that!)

My brother, who has no children of his own, wants to buy them toys.

But the abandoned within hours or days thing is why I can't stand it. My parents bought loads of toys with tiny pieces last year. The children neither played with them nor wanted to clean them up. Some of the toys they did play with, only to indice constant fighting ALL day long--and that's not helpful.

Books, art supplies, dress-up clothes--yep, that's the best!

I loved the way you wrapped your ornaments last year. As soo nas I saw that post I wanted to dump all of the red paper I bought on clearance and just buy a giant roll of brown paper. I want to wrap my gifts like yours every year.

After you posted those photos last year I did cut lots of rosemary for my gifts, and euyonomous, and I stuck it on my gifts.

I still have lots of plain red and green, though, so I'll probably just use all of that up.