Oddities and beauty have been found in our gift giving this week. It could be the Palidrone universe, it could be us changing for the better, both, or something else entirely.
It started with our youngest child being invited to a classmate's birthday party.
This was his first party to attend on his own, without his brothers, without his parents. He’s been watching his older brothers get invited to parties for years so he was beyond excited for it to be his turn.
When I said we needed to go get a gift, he immediately went to his room. I had no idea what he was doing. I was getting ready to go to the store and he had disappeared in the house.
He came out with one of his beloved stuffed animals in a gift bag. He told me he knew his friend loved stuffed animals because he brings one to school each day. He exclaimed, “I know he would love this one. I don’t use it too much anymore but he might love it more.”
Ah, man. Some of the sweetest words my six year old has said.
I was going to explain we needed to go buy a gift but I caught myself. I checked in with myself. I was feeling proud and joyful. He looked happy and excited; I knew I needed to let this be and follow my feelings. My child was doing something so heartfelt and I realized this deep in my soul. I washed the gift and we put it back in the gift bag.
This isn’t an accepted societal practice: giving someone a used stuffed animal. We go buy new stuff...every time. I have been on my own journey with minimalism and evaluating how to live a meaningful life. I have slowly discarded extra possessions to accomplish this. I want second-hand gift giving to be an acceptable practice so I chose to encourage him instead of instill society’s acceptable practice on him. If I believe this is okay, then my family must do it no matter any judgment we may face. And who better to try this out than my innocent, sweet six year old?
I love that he did this. I love even more that I feel good about this choice. I feel proud of him for wanting to give something up to a friend rather than go buy something random from a store. I don’t know if he even thought about purchasing which makes this even more beautiful.
Maybe I am doing something right as a parent and maybe this is a fluke. But because another odd gift situation came about, I’m going to go with the parent thing. (Take my props where I can get them.)
It was my oldest son’s 11th birthday a couple days ago. For weeks My hubby and I had talked at length about what to get him. The biggest hold up was that he wanted all these expensive things: a PlayStation, a cell phone, an arm, a leg… ya know, normal pre-teen type stuff.
So we seriously considered a cell phone. We came up with rules, and boundaries and then...just didn’t get it. Time got away from us and the next thing I know, it’s the night before his birthday. I let him know our gift would be late. He didn’t say much about it.
When I tucked him in on his birthday night, he seemed kind of sad. I asked him how his day was and he said okay. I probed a little more and he shared he felt disappointed that he didn’t receive a gift from us. I was honest and told him my dilemma with the expensive requests. I shared how we were still thinking of a cell phone. He took it pretty maturely, just listened. I understand the disappointment of his expectations but I also did not want to buy a gift for the sake of buying a gift.
Two days after his birthday, we still had no decision or gift for him.
But, he got some birthday money from grandparents and worked the holiday showcase so he actually has the exact amount of money for a cell phone we were looking at. So, we will be headed to the store for him to purchase his own gift.
Is this odd or weird? Maybe. However, I love that it happened this way. He earned something he has really wanted. I also reminded him that we have to pay for it every month from here after.
Both of these events are just more signs of how life can be done differently. In the past, I would have stressed about buying my son a gift and went out to buy something just so I would have anything to give him. I also would have been nervous about my other son choosing to give an already loved, gently-used stuffed animal to a classmate. I felt neither of these things.
Christmas is right around the corner. I have already decided I will not be purchasing any gifts for extended family. I will be making some photo collages for grandparents and encouraging my boys to also make a gifts for others. We will be getting our own boys one gift together and my nieces will be getting a hotel weekend with the family in January. (Shhh, don’t tell them.)
My expectations around gift-giving are a byproduct of changing beliefs. When I allowed these situations to happen, I felt at peace. I did not feel the stress of going to purchase a random toy for my son's friend and I did not feel guilt over not having a present for my oldest son’s birthday. I had faith that both situations would be okay. I checked in with my feelings throughout each situation and listened to my body showing me it was at ease, feeling the happiness and joy from my inner self.
I do not think anyone else’s beliefs are right or wrong. I just know each year, I do not feel good about spending money. I do not want to spend money on gifts I buy just so I have something to give. I am working to be true to myself and I get closer each year. My holiday wish is that you also are true to yourself and your beliefs, whether they be considered odd or normal, they are yours which makes them beautiful.