13 December 2009

Now What?

So, if love is a verb, how do you wrap that and stick it in your stocking?

As the majority of our children are just beginning to enter the age of desiring to give Christmas gifts as well as get, we have been presented with a new dilemma.

Last year we took all of the younger set to the infamous Dollar Tree and let each one pick out gifts for their siblings. It was fun. The kids loved picking out toys that each one would enjoy.

But we ended up with 16 toys that were probably broken and disposed of before the new year, if not that very Christmas afternoon.

This year we are looking to try a new plan.

Another experiment.

(Which I am beginning to believe is all parenting really is - a really expensive, really frightening, really powerful experiment.)


This year we are encouraging the kids to give one another gifts that have no dollar sign attached to them. Gifts that you cannot pick up at your local Wal-Mart.

We are working on gifts of Action. Of Love. Of Experiences.

When I told the kids our plan, I cited Kevin's active love when I was sick. I asked them, "If dad had given me a really cool toy - like a Transformer - would Mommy have gotten better?"

All heads shook no.

"Right," I said. "But what did Daddy give me instead?"

They answered, "Rest." "Sleep." "Help." "Lunch."

"Can you buy those things at a store?" I asked them.

All heads shook no.

After a bit more nudging, we got out crayons and paper and began the process of card making and gift giving. And they started to get excited.

We haven't finished everyone's gifts yet, of course. But so far Bergen has designed his card for Daddy with his act of service written down - which I cannot reveal here since the secret would then be out.

Mosely made a card for Piper promising to play with her and Eagle one afternoon. She has also pledged to play cars with Bergen on two different days. (Which is a bigger sacrifice than you might think - Mosely is no fan of car playing and Berg's daily request is for someone ANYONE to play cars with him.)

London knows Mosely has been asking for an American Girl doll. But we are not buying presents this year at our house. Instead we are going on a road trip to Florida to spend time with family, framily, friends, plus one big overpriced Mouse. So both girls know that an American Girl doll is not in Mosely's future.

After designing her card for Mosely, London began tapping her pencil to her head as she pondered what she could do for her sister. Her eyes lit up as she caught the spirit of our endeavor. "I know! I can let Mosely play with my doll for six, no seven, no eight, no TEN whole days!"

We still have a handful of cards to design and action gifts to determine, but I hope this will be an idea that can catch on at our house.

If not, I guess next year we'll head back to the drawing board for our next experiment.


  1. Good one on Pondering Parenting - it helps a lot!

    We clearly share similar parenting experiences and views.
    I've been reading one that I'm hooked on - http://todayscliche.com/.
    I have a feeling you'd get a lot out of it.

    Incredible job on your blog; keep it up.


  2. I think this is a wonderful way of teaching your children how to give from the heart!
    Helen Rutrough

  3. good stuff. we are doing the Advent Conspiracy at our church and i love it. it's all about giving relational gifts, and using the money you save to help those in need. (adventconspiracy.org)

    anyhoo...on a less meaningfull note...

    "wrap that and stick it in your stocking" has totally just been added to my vernacular. although probably not in the original meaning you had in mind :)


  4. These gifts are a treasure!! And I can give a hearty "amen" to the annoyance of having a pile of Dollar Store toys broken after a day of play! We kept trying that several years in a row and then quit . . . wondering where our sanity had been!! This is a wonderful idea!