Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dollar Store Wealth

christmas 2007
christmas 2007 (Photo credit: paparutzi)
As I watched the Black Friday mall reports roll in, my mind briefly obsessed about the stupidity and commercialism of the Christmas season (that now apparently starts before Halloween).  I couldn't stay upset for too long though because I love the month of December.  I love cold weather more than hot.  I love baking more than cooking. I love making cards and snail mail.  All of these things make for a month of fun preparation.  One of my favorite traditions is that my family always designs a Christmas card.  My husband and I did this when we first lived together and we have struggled to come to creative consensus each season, for 22 years since.  We also make a lot of our gifts - first as a necessity and now I think, just because we enjoy it.

On our way back from my sister's home for Thanksgiving (over the river and through the woods) we started brainstorming about our card design this year and potential gift ideas.  The whole conversation transported me in time to my teenagers as toddlers. I flashed on the homemade Christmas gifts that they made for aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends - magnets, ornaments, framed art work, and a really fabulous one-of-a-kind handpainted sweatshirt.  Even better were my memories of them taking their allowances and shopping at the Dollar Store.  It was the perfect place for a kindergartner whose life savings came in under $20. $9 = 9 people to find a gift.  I would always foot the taxes, it was too hard to explain to 4 and 6 year olds.

There was inevitably a time in the shopping trip when they would ask me to stay in one specific corner of the store while they shopped for me.  I never second guessed their choices and frequently wished that I was as talented at understanding the interests and quirks of my loved ones when it came to my gifts.  Here is what I noticed early on and what continues to be true today.  No one expected to get a gift from their 4 year old relative but the real gift, pardon the obvious truism, was in the giving.  Taking it one step further, giving meant that they had extra -  bounty - surplus.  That is a powerful feeling for a child.  In the simple act of picking out the perfect coffee mug they were self-directed and in control, not needy or begging from a endless pool of want. Now as teenagers, they have their Christmas wishlist and it includes their own wants and the ways that they want to surprise and splurge on their loved ones. No matter our age, giving always makes us feel good about ourselves.  Let kids feel that wealthy.
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1 comment:

  1. What lovely memories and fun traditions... I may have to borrow some of those ideas. :) And you're so right about how the little things, the seemingly small acts, can carry much more significance than might appear on the surface. Thanks for the reminder.