Talk about cheap and quality in the same sentence?
Yes, you can do both when it comes to buying Christmas, birthday,
and any other kind of gift for a child.
You really don’t have to go broke to keep your little ones happy.
I realized this last summer as I was casually shopping around a local
garage sale put on annually by our community.
There was a lot of stuff there!
After about two hours of looking and not even getting through half of it, I started thinking about how material we had become.
It seemed as though the sale was just loaded with last years’ Christmas gifts…games that had rarely been played… crafts that were intended for good purposes… countless movies and books that had been watched or read only once… toys that were barely toyed with…
and the list could go on and on…
I began wondering what people in other countries, like
Brazil, Nigeria, Hungary or Jamaica
would think about all this stuff.
Wouldn’t they think we were crazy?
It was all just stuff. Nothing we really needed for our existence or survival.
I decided right then at that garage sale that I was going to try to put an end to it in my family!
I made the choice for that years’ Christmas and birthday gifts, everyone would receive only used or homemade presents!
I went home that day and made a grand announcement that this was
how it was going to be!
To top it off, there would be no lists!
And for Christmas, they would only receive three gifts!
“After all,” I reminded them, “if baby Jesus only received three gifts on that first Christmas morning, why should we expect any more than our creator?”
Surprisingly, they didn’t really say much.
Maybe they hadn’t comprehended what I said.
So, I made sure to remind them of this change every chance I got.
It was summer; they had plenty of time to get use to the idea.
Every year, we insist on spending small fortunes, sometimes even borrowing the money to keep everyone content and happy.
We’ve developed some absurd notion that unless our kids have this, that and the other thing on their lists, they will feel a sense of deprivation and the occasion will have lost its magic.
I have concluded that it is not our children who think this, but we ourselves who have that delusion.
It’s not our kids who think they’re deprived if they don’t have what’s on their lists, it’s us.
We put that idea into their subconscious brains right from the start.
We teach them how to ask and receive and search for contentment
through the material.
I realized this to be very true when talking to a friend right before Christmas about the books she was getting for her 10-year-old as gifts. I suggested she go on Amazon and buy used ones.
She said, “Oh no! These are from Santa, I couldn’t do that!”
I replied, “Why not?” And she had to stop and think why not.
I thought to myself, “If my child, upon receiving a used book said,
‘I don’t want this, it’s used. Take it away,’
I would be horrified at how I have ridiculously spoiled her.”
In the end, it actually turned out to be quite fun. We spent the rest of our summer weekends making lists of local garage and yard sales and spending whole mornings or afternoons eagerly searching out the perfect gifts for everyone.
The kids usually draw names for Christmas because there’s so many of them; it would be too much for them to buy for everyone.
This year, I gave them the freedom to either give to one sibling or to all of them. Some chose to draw names, and others chose to buy or
make something for everyone.
Without the pressure of needing a lot of money,
it became a whole new kind of fun and adventure.
To tell the truth, many of the “used” gifts we found were things that we would never be able to afford otherwise.
The quality of many of the treasures we discovered was
so much nicer than what they would have gotten “new.”
To my surprise, we spent very little money, and all were quite content and happy. We didn’t have to go broke to make it fun.
They were, in the end, quite content.
Just in case, I asked them about a month later
if they wanted to do it again next year.
They said, “Sure.”