As my little one's first birthday and the holidays are quickly approaching one thing that has been at the forefront of my mind is the issue of presents. Since the munchkin will only be one year old I have to admit that my hubby and I have not gotten him anything as of yet, and I am not sure we are going to. Right now he does not need anything, and lets be honest, he won't remember years from now whether or not we even got him a present.
But besides the age factor, I am finding myself torn about the gift idea altogether. Don't get me wrong, I am sure giving gifts to your children is a lot of fun, especially once they are old enough to really appreciate them, but I have always known that I did not want to be one of those parents that showers their child with every gift they asked for and then some. I have been to some little kids birthdays where the parents have to start taking away some of the toys that were opened first because the child is so excited about them that they don't even care to open more presents. I remember very clearly witnessing one of these parties and thinking to myself, "Wow, that kid would have been perfectly satisfied with the first gift he opened. Why does he even need eight more gifts?"
My instincts are to limit the number of gifts that are given at birthday's and Christmas. I would rather give one or two well thought out gifts then have my child surrounded by a pile of presents that will likely only hold his attention for a short time, regardless of the euphoria that situation might create for him or her. Not to mention that since the munchkin was born we have been careful about what kind of toys he plays with. We have avoided many toys that light up and make noise because we want him to play not be entertained. We have chosen toys that require him to learn and think and imagine.
So, this is a question that my hubby and I are wrestling with and will probably have to iron out as our little one grows and the pressure to get more and more presents mounts.
During a recent visit with my Grandpa he said something that has really stuck with me and made me evaluate the idea of gifts for our children. Grandpa was one of 9 children and growing up he did not have a lot of toys, but felt that having to make do with what he had built so much character in him. As we talked about his childhood and raising children he said, "I think one of the biggest challenges facing parents today is knowing that they can afford to give their children so many things yet making the conscious choice not to."
I don't want my son to have everything. I want him to know what it is like to not get what he wants all the time. I truly believe that children can learn so much more through the absence of abundance then they can with it, and that part of character formation is being able to appreciate the things you have. This is taught first and foremost by the example that my husband and I set, but secondly by the message we send on birthdays and Christmas.
Yes, we will give our son gifts, but my earnest desire is that he can grow into a man who does not require more and more things to be satisfied with his life, and that he can learn to be happy with the little that he actually needs so that his abundance can be used to bless other people.