Gift of Giving

With Christmas coming near, people are either scrambling to get gifts or scrambling to get the best gifts. Normally the biggest gift giving times in the year are Valentine’s Day (to our coupled readers), birthdays, and Christmas. And a normal trend with the holidays is the gifts beating the previous year’s gifts.

It is about upstaging the old Christmas gifts; it is about showing how much you care about them with the grandest most thoughtful presents under the tree. It is ultimately a contest to shine the brightest in the family.

To most, however, it doesn’t look like that. It looks like you are giving your loved one, or the special people in your life something nice that you feel they deserve. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with it and it is a sweet gesture. As adults our tastes have evolved or changed; and our gifts also get expensive. What we want is normally taken care of by ourselves, or we get what we want on important days like our birthday or Christmas.

Now this is a different circumstance for those who don’t have families of their own. I am childless, and only have my family and friends to treat for Christmas. But my family and friends have everything that they want or buy it for themselves since they are all adults. You would think buying stuff for kids is easier, since it is normally just toys that they would want.

The issue that the more recent generation of children are running into is overload of wealth. It is what I have personally coined the idea of: providing a child with items that are above the norm for a child their age because the parents are in a better situation than their own personal childhoods.

When I was growing up, I wanted either the latest Barbie doll, or something that fed into my drawing hobby. Buy me a box of crayons, and I was a happy kid. I remember one Christmas, I got a huge 64 pack box of crayons, and it had a cool sharpener built into the back of the case. To me that was a Christmas gift. Christmas is about giving something a little more extra special than normal, and a 64 pack of crayons beat my regular RoseArt set I had been recycling for years.

Growing up now, however, I see kids in 5th grade sporting an Apple watch or carrying their first iPhone. Parents give the excuse that it is so they can have a quick way to access their kids, and that it is for group projects. It is funny to me that the BIGGEST excuse I consistently hear for APPLE products for younger kids is “group projects.”

Gone is the time where kids received gifts meant for their age. I notice if they do receive toys, it’s in unison with an expensive gadget. You cannot blame a child for wanting shiny gadgets, when on TV all that is advertised is the newest phone, laptop, watch, or tech. I feel it is the parent’s responsibility to acknowledge what is age appropriate and what is needed for a child.

I will elaborate why I find expensive gifts troublesome for kids, but before I want to insist that most times parent’s give these gifts out of love. They want their child to have the best of the best and be sporting the best things that they can afford. As time and generations have changed, so have tastes in gifts. However, I find that the importance comes into insisting that presents stay within age-appropriate range.

A 4th grader does not need to have an apple watch to communicate with parents for “emergencies.” In elementary school, kids are normally coming home on the bus or are being picked up by their parents. In case of emergencies, teachers have access to parents’ numbers and contacts for the safety of the child. As thoughtful as the gift may be, it is also impractical, in my opinion. And what would that mean for next Christmas if this Christmas you already got them an Apple Watch?

Now besides the love behind the gift, this is what I find to be the issue with expensive gifts for younger kids. An elementary or middle school child is still naive and don’t have the sense of understanding. They know what they know from home life and know what they know about their friends depending on the friend.

Let’s say your child got an iPad for Christmas and brings it to school for project purposes. In the class, school issued laptops are normally given to students if they don’t have their own devices. But your child has an iPad and can now use that. Let’s say their friend isn’t from the same background and for Christmas they got their favorite toy. They wanted an iPad as well, since a lot of other kids had iPads but instead got a superhero action figure.

Your child pulls out their iPad, and as a child in elementary school, they are happy to brag about it. “I got an iPad for Christmas, what did you get?” Now there is nothing wrong with a child getting excited about a Christmas gift, however there is now an obvious difference between the kids. One has a gift that is humble and still loved, and the other has a gift that is “humble” and loved too. But is it loved because it is expensive? Or loved because the idea behind it?

One thing I do recognize is children have an understanding about money when it comes to them versus their peers. When I was a child, I knew there were kids in my class who had more money than me. I knew it based on the clothes they wore, or the gifts they brought. For birthdays, the parents would bring in personalized cupcakes, whereas I brought in delicious Target cupcakes.

I would brag about a Barbie doll, when I would see my peer show off a new Pandora bracelet. It was obvious that the wealthy stayed together. It is a harsh reality for adults to understand. As we aged we realized the idea of humbleness was better than being prude. But to a child, humbleness isn’t a concept because they have not been taught that idea.

Parents for Christmas, I am not telling you what and what not to buy. Just be mindful of what you get your child, and teach them more so about kindness and family, rather than teaching them that Christmas means gifts.

Christmas is not just about gifts, and for a child that’s all it is for them. But start young and teach them it is also about giving back. It’s about love, unity, family, humbleness, and kindness. If you can get your child an iPad, you can also donate a few toys to Toys-for-Tots. Show them that wealth doesn’t mean anything more than you have access to more than normal. Wealth just means to give back as well, and to share.

Kids may not understand the concept of giving back but starting them young will help instill that idea as they get older. It’s a gift to be able to give back to the community. This doesn’t apply to just Christmas, but understand Christmas is the biggest time of year that pushes gifts and pushes happiness.

Give to those who don’t have. Donate toys, and clothes to your local charities. Volunteer at kitchens to help give food to the less fortunate. Your child should see that everyone on the holiest, jolliest season of the year deserves to be warm, fed, and loved. No matter their background, and who they are, everyone deserves to be happy for the holidays.

And if you chose to give your child some nice gadgets, let them know it doesn’t mean they are better than someone who doesn’t have what they have. Teach them the concept of sharing, and not to be materialistic.

Overall, enjoy the holidays! I hope everyone gets what they want and most importantly, come out of the holidays happy and full of love. Memories last forever, so make this time the best time. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!