My husband and I made a decision this Christmas. It’s a bit radical. It’s something I’ve been thinking about, praying about, and weighing for years. And this year we’re doing it: we are not buying our two girls, ages 7 and 11 any toys.
Before you label me a scrooge or or dig out your receipts to return all your gifts let me explain why. This decision didn’t come easily and if I’m being really honest it wasn’t easy to ignore their wishlist which contained many of the newest, coolest, sure-to-please toys.
Memories over stuff. As I think back over my Holidays as a child and now over the Holidays we’ve celebrated as a family, I can’t think of a single toy that I received, not one. I know I received them. I know I asked for them. I know I gave them to my girls, picked them out carefully and thoughtfully. I know on Christmas Day my girls were excited to receive these gifts but early this season I asked them what their favorite Christmas gift to-date was and do you know what, neither of them listed a toy. They could remember plenty of other gifts and so could I. Like the purse I really wanted our very first Christmas married that was out of our budget. My husband saved for it and surprised me with it. I remember with fondness many gatherings with family and friends. Traditions like Bingo (as strange as it may sound my family plays Bingo at our Holiday parties), potato cheese soup (always on Christmas Eve), and singing Silent Night at Christmas Eve service at our community church. These are the things I remember and they will too. This is what I’d rather give my girls, memories. Not something that will break or be forgotten or thrown away but the memories they can keep with them for the rest of their lives.
They don’t need more stuff. Maybe this is a given. We live in America, we are a middle class family. We are not lacking. Both my daughters have birthdays that sandwich Christmas. My oldest the first part of December and my youngest on New Year’s Day. They also receive an allowance for chores done here at home. Between the gifts they receive, and things they buy on their own, they really don’t need any more stuff, so I’m going to quit buying it for them.
Less is more. The older I get, the more value I see in having fewer, nicer items I really want, as opposed to having a bunch of items simply for the sake of having them. I want to instill this attitude and way of life in my in my kids too. I want them to save for what they really want instead of buying a bunch of stuff they don’t. I take that opportunity away from them by constantly buying them whatever they want. I want them to have self-control and to take good care of the things they do have.
Practice what I preach. My husband and I are raising our girls to be followers of Christ, and the older they get the more I am seeing that I need to practice what I preach if I truly want them to grasp what that means. If I am going to teach them to give to others, well then, I better be giving to others. If I ask them to tithe ten-percent of their allowance, I better be tithing. And if I want them to grow to be kind, caring, and giving adults then I better be a kind, caring, giving adult. If I want them to value memories over stuff, and live by the less is more principle, then I need to model that for them first. And certainly if I want them to see that Christmas is not about what they can get but what was given for them, then I need to make sure I am living that out by not providing them with copious amounts of toys but instead leaving room for them to truly receive Christ’s gift.
So that is what we are doing. We are not buying our kids toys this Christmas. Don’t worry. They will have a gifts under the Christmas tree and in their stocking. Their gifts will be a combination of things they need, things they have asked for, and gifts that create memories with others. But every toy they see on TV or in the Target ad will have to wait.