Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Gift of Experience

Christmas is coming.

I love this season for the magic it brings. Twinkling lights, Rosie Thomas Christmas music, the smell of a fresh turkish fur, chilly weather, decorations, & the spirit of intention; that's what I see in the still small anticipatory moments. I fear however, like every month, the time ushers past me too quickly and I'm caught up in the navigation of daily life with the added holiday agenda.

Already I am dreaming of Christmas morning and seeing the faces of some of those I love opening up presents. I have spent possibly too much time considering just what to wrap up for them before purchasing. Then there's the worry that my children will MISS the reason of the season: Jesus. That I will miss JESUS in the season!

Yesterday, in an epic toy explosion we call KK, we had the chance to examine every single toy we own strewn out around the living room. Wide eyed, my husband and I stared at each other: this is NOT what we want!

I shared, "Sweetie, I really WANT to ask people NOT to get our children toys for Christmas," and he acquiesced.

Now before you think I'm a horrible mother trying to strip the magic of Santa's delivery or rob grandparents of their ability to love long distance, it's NOT that I want to rob my children, it's quite the opposite, I want to GIVE to my children. I am not against the idea of gifting (after all, it's MY very own love language. I LOVE gift giving). What I want though for my children is the gift of experience.

I know, Skylanders are an experience (a technologically odd one but an experience none the less), blocks expand the mind, remote helicopters are fun (for dad), & nerf guns are fabulous but they all lose their magic. Each toy that was so highly coveted soon becomes a thing of the past and only remembered if in generations to come they are resurrected again, like Ninja Turtles or Strawberry Shortcake. What takes longer to dissipate, what builds bonds, what grows relationships is the gift of experience.

From my childhood, what I cherish most now is the gift my grandma gave of The Candy Cane Tree. Before she arrived at our house, she'd hang a barren tree with dozens of candy canes. All three of us would line up at the end of the street and at the word GO would race down and strip the tree of it's new peppermint leaves and see who won the "who got the most!" contest. I remember all of the clothes we would get and between cousins our eyes would meet and silently say, "I can't wait to return this with you on our after-Christmas shopping trip!" I LOVE the annual gift my Aunt and Uncle gave us of family bowling WITH team shirts. And of course, there is always the gift of Christmas Dinner at the castle. Gifts of love, time, & laughter that just STICK in my heart like cinnamon roll frosting on my fingers.

I don't want my children to relive my experience and the magic it brought me. I want them to have their own. I want them to be sown into with opportunity: college support, swimming lessons, a chance to go to the movie theater, an art class, a pottery painting hour, a date for a shake at Sonic, a trip to Dutch Brothers for a hot chocolate. Some of these experiences are less than $5 and give the gift of living life outside of our own financial ability to provide or sustain.

The humbling part is that I realize in writing this that my wish to dictate what is given to my children is selfish. I want to orchestrate the love that is sent to them, given to them, doted upon them to fit within my parenting dreams.

In this moment, I stare at the sea of legos, the ninja turtle figurines, and the endless supply of hot wheels and wonder, is this not relational experience too between brothers? Perhaps I am off base. The heart of this rant, however, is my acknowledgement that time is invaluable and what an amazing opportunity to gift others in our lives with small gifts to encourage relationship. At the very epicenter of my heart is the desire to spend less time frustrated at the chaos of cleaning & more time GIVING LIFE to my family in the art of making memories.

{Looking for ideas on how to give non-toy gifts?? Check out this post!}

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