Simple holidays and ideas for gift giving
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Festivals are wonderful, especially when shared with a child. As the days grow shorter, the season of lights is upon us. It is, however, easy to be overwhelmed by what Kim Payne calls the 4 pillars of too much—too much stuff, too many choices, too much information and too much speed. How can we avoid these? It’s not always easy, but planning is always helpful. You, and your spouse or partner if you have one, can look at what is most important for you during the holidays. What are your values and dreams around this time of year? What traditions, old or new, really make it feel like a holiday? Who is it important to spend time with? What daily and weekly routines do you wish to hold onto in order to provide your child with rhythm and predictability to balance out the excitement of the holidays? What would you most like to avoid during the holidays? As always, allowing plenty of time for each activity and for transitions, as well as having some down time between activities will make any day more enjoyable. If you have a particularly busy day or two, plan a day on either side to be at home or in nature.
I also want to share with you some ideas about gift giving that were complied by Paula Hamma, one of my Simplicity Parenting workshop leader colleagues. If people you know tend to give your child gifts you would rather they not have, there are several possible approaches to support our values without hurting the other person’s feelings.
1. Have a conversation—this can be difficult, but can be helpful. Let the person know that the child loves them because of who they are, not what they give. We want our children to be grateful for the simple things in life. If the person has given you a special simple gift, such as an outing or time together, let them know the impact of that gift.
2. Give direction—give catalogs or links to sites that have items you prefer. Since many Waldorf toys are expensive, you can also let them know that many items can be made or they can give some simple household items. (For Small Hands, a Montessori catalog has many practical, real life items). If a person is crafty, they can make something. If the person enjoys nature, they can gather treasures from nature or take your child out to gather treasures together. They could also give a toy they treasured from their childhood.
3. Create a collection—such as a book collection—favorite books from the givers childhood, fairy tales (when they get a little older), nursery rhymes; or a toy kitchen collection—real items found in their own home like shot glasses, teacups, small spoons, cloth napkins.
4. Create memories—provide paper and ask them to write a memory of when they were the child’s age, when the parent was the child’s age, what they love to do right now, what they loved to do when they were a child, their favorite places, when mama was pregnant—or ask for photos—e.g. of them with the child, of them when they were the same age as child.
5. Plan for the future—if they would spend $30 for a gift for your child, ask them to put that money in a bank account for the child.
6. Give up! Stop trying to change everyone else and just set the boundaries for your family! Realize that the giver gives a gift out of love and wanting to give you enjoyment. Accept the gift with love and gratitude. Honor the giver.
a. If the intent was to give the giver happiness and you accepted it gratefully, then the intent has been fulfilled and the item is no longer necessary—pass it on.
b. If the intent was to bring you happiness, then do whatever makes you happy with the gift. Things want to be useful, so make the item happy by allowing it to become useful rather than being stored away. Give it to someone to whom it will bring joy.
c. If your child gets an inappropriate toy and your boundaries are pretty clear, you child will know that the toy will not be around for a long time. Let the child play with it and enjoy it and when they become bored, let it go. Or you can exchange it at the story for something you do want
All of these ideas are useful, and some people are happy to receive your guidance as to what you want for your child. If they are not, then it usually comes down to the last point—give up; accept people for who they are and remember that they are expressing love, even if it is not the way you would like that love to be expressed.
Well, I think that is enough for this week—I have gone over my one page limit. I hope some of these ideas are helpful to you. As always, let me know if you have any questions or other ideas to share that help you to create joyful holidays