A few years ago, I read about a helpful formula for giving holiday gifts to our children. It was called the ” gift of four”. The four categories are: one gift that your child wants so badly, one that will thrill and delight her and you also, just by the look on her face when she opens it; one gift that your child needs – perhaps, new boots, snow pants, pajamas, a new backpack; one gift to replenish a disposable item like markers and crayons, drawing pads, paints, play dough, stickers, batteries; and one gift to celebrate the joy of reading with a book you know your child will love.
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? In my experience, however, I find that it’s not the amount of toys and presents that a child receives that matters most. Presents are, undeniably, exciting and fun to dream about. But for children everywhere, our presence is ever more important to them. So when we are scrambling here and there to this sale and that bargain, consider the gift of four and the simplicity it implies – leaving all of us the time for presence in our family life.
A fun idea to help count down these days in anticipation, as well as remind you about intentionally sharing this time in your busy schedule, is to hang a paper chain with the appropriate number of rings. On each ring, write the date and inside write a suggestion of something to do together. Perhaps on December 18th, bake cookies for your next door neighbor; another day, walk around the neighborhood to see the decorations; hang the stockings; open one gift that came in the mail; read a holiday book; look in the top shelf of the cupboard for a yummy sweet treat; drag out the sleeping bags and sleep under the Christmas tree; make some popcorn and watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.
Activities such as these spread the fun and meaning of the season out and focuses on doing things together and enjoying each other. It is these experiences and times shared that will bring the true spirit of the holiday to your family life.
Now that’s a gift to remember!