Saturday, December 17, 2011

Donating this holiday season

We often find ourselves making split-second decisions to handle a problem as we try to raise these boys. Everyone does. Today was no different. And while we are not sure it was the best choice, once the words were uttered we rolled with it, to see where it took us.

Since we are traveling next week and Santa is visiting us at Grandma and Grandpa’s house this year, we opted to do our family presents early. This morning was our family holiday time – sitting by a fire, opening gifts to one another, warm tea at hand, mom and dad watching the boys play joyfully. Well, that is how we thought it would go. But with two boys up before 6 am, whining and asking to get up to open presents, the morning got off to a bumpy beginning. After too much, I grabbed a bag and declared that if there was any more whining over gifts, it meant they were spoiled and had too much. I would put gifts in the bag and donate them. For right or wrong, it is how I felt watching Elliott ask (demand) to open gifts.

Shortly after this we settled in to give gifts with no more whining. Elliott was allowed to pick the first gift he opened. It happened that he chose a big box of 50 blank rainbow note cards, a gift I thought he would love since he enjoys card-making for friends and family. He immediately started grumbling that he did not like his gift and scowling. I plucked it from his hand and put it in the bag, stating someone else would be pleased with the gift. I explained why it upset me and what thought I put into the gift. What really made me mad though is that he did not seem to care. I was appalled at how my child was acting about a gift. A GIFT!

Since I could not bring myself to scoop up all the toys and gifts, we ate our breakfast and tried again. Apparently something must have sunk in because he thanked us for later gifts, even new sheets and new pencils, though he did not seem as excited about them as he was about legos.

I do feel lucky that after each present both boys took time to play with each item before wanting to open another. But I see a need to teach Elliott manners on gift giving and receiving and a bigger need to start curbing my impulse to buy or give both boys too much at any time of the year. Otherwise we may have a new holiday tradition – a donation bag under the tree.

And on a side note, after three years, I think we have established another actual holiday tradition – fuzzy bright socks from Mike to Diana. And I was actually looking forward to them this year!

To counter Mike’s sock gift this year, I gifted some socks his way too. I bought them from Etsy to match a hat I knit last year.


  1. Love the socks :)
    Sounds like you handled that just right. I will keep your idea in mind, should we need it.

  2. I agree with the logical consequence--good for you with following through! I'm familiar with the frustration at the "gimmies" with gift opening on Christmas. I'm hoping that this year I can lay out my expectations before we open presents and they will keep their greed at bay. We'll see!

  3. Nicely written and nicely done. It's a struggle to balance the joy of gift giving with the very genuine reactions of kids.

    Happy holidays!

  4. Wonderful idea about the donation bag. And I LOVe the socks. Great choice. Miss you guys!