Monday, November 15, 2010

Rethinking the "Norm"

At Hayden's Birthday Party

This year we've been changing up a lot of how we "usually" do things.  There are a lot of values and character traits that I think are important to develop in our kids, and I am seeing more and more little ways we can contribute to that.  I also remember the aftermath of how we've done things in previous years and how I was left with an unsettling feeling of what I might be teaching our children!

The first was "The Birthday".  It has traditionally been a time where Hayden is lavished with gifts from both friends and family.  And, of course, there is nothing wrong with that.  However, he received so many gifts that he had very little appreciation for them!!  And that really saddened me.

I don't want Hayden or Corbin growing up without true thankfulness and appreciation for what they receive.  Having an overabundance of possessions can contribute to mistreating his toys and taking these things for granted.  Why be thankful for a new toy truck when you already have 10?  The truck would just land in the pile of seldom played with toys.

And how could they truly play with their toys if their selection was so great they could move from one toy to another all day without every running out of new toys to play with!

Hayden and Jake
Hayden sharing his birthday hat with his friend Jake
I didn't like what I saw - and I also didn't like admitting that I was one of the primary causes of it.  The children don't buy the toys, I do.

So this year, we tried something new.  Hayden received one gift from us this year - a tricycle.  We also asked a few of our close friends to donate can goods in place of a gift for a food drive our church was participating in.  This opened the door for us to talk to Hayden about other boys and girls who went to bed hungry at night and didn't have all the toys and food that he did.  

We also shared a birthday party with two other four year olds who had birthdays in November.  It was a great way to show him that it was "not all about him" and for him to think of others - even on his birthday!

Hayden jumping off the slide
And what a wonderful day it was with those few changes!  Hayden got 3 presents from his friends that he has truly loved and enjoyed.  He also was excited about all the food we got to feed the hungry kids - "Wow!" (his words, hehe).  And he had no problem sharing the "spotlight" with his friends that day.

Mark and Corbin going down the big slide!
His birthday went so well, we're going to try and make similar changes to Christmas well.  Focusing more on Christ and the meaning of Christmas than the free-for-all gift extravaganza of years past.  I'll be posting more on that later!

I still can't believe our little boy is four!!

Hayden blowing out his candles.


Gail said...

We are in a situation where we don't have the money to buy gifts in that manner for Roland, or nieces/nephews/friends, etc. We are forced to keep our gift shopping list small. I keep in mind and try to respect some people's love languages involve receiving gifts of some type, and I have completed most of our shopping "list" for this year, with the limits we made, though have yet to do Roland or Dan. We decided to save ourselves for last.

Sometimes I get upset cause I don't have the means to provide nicer gifts. But a song really has crept into my heart. Your Love by Brandon Heath.

"Your Love, Your Love.
The only thing that matters is your Love.
Your Love is all I have to give. Your Love's enough to light up the darkness.
Your Love, Your Love,
all I ever needed was Your Love."

What does that look like? To make sure you are giving God's love at Christmas?, cause it's all I have to give, and it's enough, and it is what is genuinely needed.

Just Me said...

Great song!

Yes, I've always been a believer of "less is more" and we generally shop that way for the kids. But this was the first year I asked our friends to join us in this sentiment as well.

I'm actually done with the shopping for the kids for Christmas. They each got 2 presents and that's it. Nothing big or fancy, but a couple gifts I think will be appreciated!

And yes, your love and time is all they truly need. Christmas is definitely not about the $ amount you spend