Today will, hopefully, finish what is left of my shopping. I have one or two things left on my list to take care of, but the last big thing is what the kids do for each other.
Several years ago, after seeing how difficult it was becoming to do the whole gift buying/giving thing with my brothers, mostly because of the fact that stuff isn’t cheap and put a burden on them yet they refused to change how we’d been doing things for years, I decided to try and get my kids to establish their own, simple tradition. I wanted to do that for several different reasons. One, to make sure they actually took the time to think about each other and not just themselves. Another was to give them a frame work to establish something of their own when they are older and we may not all be able to be together.
Each year they decide on a theme for their gift. They get to pick their own theme of what they want, books, movies, warm and fuzzy, whatever. The theme must be broad enough to give choice but still narrow enough that there aren’t too many. They have to spend between $15 and $20 (which, for now we pay for) and they have to wrap the gift themselves. The goal being that the gift isn’t about the money but the thought. Since they each have their own tree, the presents end up there instead of under our big family tree. They also open their gifts to each other on the first day of Winter. It makes the whole event about them and sharing with each other.
I was really kind of surprised the first couple of times they did this because all three of them (at least then) put an amazing amount of thought and effort into picking out something they knew their brother or sister would really like. Those gifts ended up being their favorites of the entire season and held more meaning for them than anything they got from anyone else, no matter how nice or big the other gifts were. It has become one of their favorite parts of the holiday season and they look forward to it almost more than the rest.
This year with OC gone for the second year in a row and MC and BG being teenagers, they have struggled a bit more with trying to decide what to do for each other. There aren’t as many things they are interested in and it is becoming harder to come up with themes. I’ve suggested things like getting each other ornaments for their trees or making something for each other, but they aren’t all that interested in that. They have decided, for probably the 3rd year in a row now, on warm and fuzzy again. In the past that has meant anything from a stuffed animal to fuzzy socks, a hat or even a fleecy blanket. They are getting a bit too old for some of those things.
They are still really excited about it, but it is becoming harder to get stuff for each other. I’m just glad it is something that is still important to them. I want them to grow into adulthood knowing that their brother or sister is still important to them, to think about them and what is important to them. I want them to have a good, healthy relationship with each other that isn’t dependent on Mom or Dad always being in the mix.
I wasn’t sure when I started doing this that it would be something they would stick with. For OC, it was still about what he was going to get more than what he was giving. With both MC and BG, it was always about really thinking about each other and I LOVE that they can do that for each other. They have always been crazy close and protective of each other. This is just one more way to help keep that wonderful relationship that they have just as meaningful and close as they grow. I hope that when they are grown adults with their own traditions that this one sticks.