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11.26.2010

Black Friday - Let the Games Begin!

This will be our first Christmas with the boys living here since 2004. It’s time to introduce them to the giving end of Christmas. I told Tio and Kit that they need to buy or make gifts for family members this year and I’m setting aside their allowances for the next few weeks so they won’t spend it on themselves in the meantime.

When I was 7 my parents told me I should give gifts to my siblings. I only got 10 cents allowance and I saved up for 2 or 3 weeks before Christmas and got a box of 6 yellow pencils which was just enough for everyone to get one. After the first two were unwrapped and the third one looked suspiciously long and thin, everyone caught on and made a big deal about wondering what it was. “Maybe it’s puzzle?” “I think mine is slippers!” “You got me a peashooter!”. It really did make it special for me to see them enjoy the gifts. The year we all got pencils became part of our family story.

Today, the three boys and I went window shopping just to scope out what they might be able to get for everyone.  I described ways they could make a couple of bucks go a long way. At first they looked at what they wanted for themselves, then we looked over some really inexpensive stuff at the party store. We came away with some good ideas and had some fun.

An important tradition we have in our family is to give away to local charity an equal amount to what we spend on gifts. During the years that we don’t have much, we divide our gift giving budget in half so that half will make it to the soup kitchen, red cross, or other worthwhile organization. With all of us here, this will be one of those years. I will ask the boys if they will each donate a dollar or two from their allowance for charity as well in the spirit of helping those who have less.

Gift giving, sharing with family, celebrating the birth of Christ, all mixed together with the incessant seasonal hubbub can make the meaning of Christmas complicated and overwhelming for kids. I’m looking forward to making this a Christmas we’ll all remember.