This year one well-known, well-liked couple, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, are deciding to do away with one societal norm surrounding Christmas: they are not giving their children, ages three and one year, presents! Now, before you throw around Grinch references, just know that they have a reason behind this decision, being that kids that young don’t understand the value or meaning of a gift. “They don’t even know what they’re expecting; they’re just expecting stuff,” said Kunis and Kutcher in an interview. I think we’ve all seen a kid rip open a present, look at it for about three seconds and toss it aside.
I do agree with what they are saying, and I 100% respect the decision they (and probably many other parents) have made. That being said, I just can’t imagine not giving my kids gifts to open on Christmas morning! It’s my parents’ fault, really it is. They went hog wild with Christmas gifts for my brother and me, it was really just ridiculous, but it is also one of the best memories I have of my family. Not just because of the presents, it was the time we spent together sitting around the tree opening them. One of our running family jokes that continues to make us laugh until we cry, is how my brother would wake up super early and line everyone’s presents up from biggest to smallest, and he would make us all open them in that order (gotta love brothers). I would get so upset because I liked the idea of picking up a present and being able to hand it to my mom, dad, etc. I honestly loved watching my family members open their gifts more than I liked receiving them.
Now that I am married with two kids of my own, my husband and I do something somewhere in between Mila and Ashton and my parents, we give gifts to our kids but we don’t go nuts with it. We also limit gift giving to the kids only, no gifts for the adults (that wasn’t run by me first, still trying to fight it). We also started new traditions in our family about giving that goes beyond Christmastime. Our older son knows that we sponsor two children through Children International, and he draws pictures for them on a regular basis and knows them both by name and has a picture of each. He gets so excited when he receives a letter from them in the mail, and keeps all of the letters in his room. Now that our son is almost four, we are teaching him about what it means to give back to the community, with time, material objects, and money. Starting in January 2018, each month he will choose a toy to donate to a child in need and go with us to deliver it to the donation center. We also got him a piggy bank that has four sections to put your money in, one of the choices being ‘Donate’. Every few months he can choose what type of charity he would like to donate his money to. Hey, might be a nice holiday gift for your own kid!
I’m a total sucker for Christmas: decorations, trees, gifts, cookies, and everything else that comes with the season. I want it all, total Griswald style. Christmas is the season of giving, and as long as you are giving love, peace, kindness and generosity, then there really is no need for presents. But hey, why not both! ‘Tis the season!