I was listening to some radio show where they asked a little girl what she wanted for Christmas. She said, “A stuffed animal.” She said Santa could choose what kind. When asked if she wanted anything else, she added, “Chapstick.”
With all the ads and shopping frenzy it occurred to me that it’s easy to ignore the actual requests of children — and adults. Despite the elaborate Barbie houses and race car sets and “i” everything and “e” readers and bright lights and touch screens, sometimes it’s the simple things that matter. Now I’m not perfect. There have been times when I’ve over indulged my children and there have been times when my children were sorely disappointed, but here’s a list of some of the simple things that brought joy:
1. Goggles. One year when my daughter was little all she asked for was goggles. I guess Santa went to Home Depot, because a $2 pair of plastic work goggles appeared on Christmas morning and the girl was ecstatic.
2. Stuffed Animal. My kid was just like the girl on the radio, except she was older, maybe eleven years old, right on the edge of the electronic appetite. But she has always loved to cuddle with soft stuffed things. Still does, even in her advancing teen years. The stuffed bunny she received that year “lives” in her room and she takes it with her on sleepovers and visits with her dad.
3. Nothing. Babies are simple creatures. They like to look at bright lights. When they are older they play with boxes. Except for maybe purchasing something they may have needed anyway (a new teether or sleepers), babies don’t need anything for Christmas except someone to show them the pretty lights and sing to them. Sometimes I would ball up pieces of wrapping paper and toss it to the babies (under supervision of course, can’t let the little angels eat paper) and the babies would be occupied trying to pick up the strange, shiny ball.
4. Etch-a-Sketch. Low-tech. Gender-neutral. Hours of fun. Needs no insurance. When it breaks (and it will) it will have served its purpose and you can replace it, or not.
5. Coupon for Playing a Video Game with My Son. Okay, so this one hurt a bit. But it cost me nothing, except for maybe a couple of Tylenol. I’m not a gamer. I do a lot of activities with my kids, but gaming, at least the warfare type, has never been my cup of tea. But one Christmas I gave him a coupon promising an hour of video game time with me. I broke it up in two segments. It was horrible. I’m horrible. I tried to do my best, but I shot at the ground, repeatedly. He took great joy in this. But bonus? He doesn’t ask me to play anymore. On occasion I’ll him ask if I can play and I get the response,
“No, Mom, no.”
6. A lock box. This wasn’t for my kids, it was for another relative. He was twenty something and had mentioned in passing that he always wanted a safe. I think he was recently out of college at the time and literally had nothing of value to protect, but I guess he had some personal items, because when he opened that fireproof lockbox safe ($19.99) he laughed broadly and exclaimed,
“I always wanted one of these!” At six feet five inches tall, he was like a big little kid.
“Thank you!” He continued to smile as he examined his box with the same look of joy and amazement he used to have when opening a new Lego set.
I don’t want to know what he keeps in that box.
Just Me With . . . thoughts on keeping it simple.
There have been others, but I’m trying to keep this simple, and short.
Other holiday related posts:
Blowing Off the Holidays — Just say no.
Time Management, Procrastination, Holiday Shopping and Moving — Some things will take exactly as much time as you allot to them.
The Annual Christmas Party — At Least I Wasn’t Insulted This Year — Unfortunate comment.
All I Want for Christmas is My Kids — Splitting the babies after divorce.
A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise — You never know the impact people have on each other.
My First Grown Up Thanksgiving — Kind Of — Thanksgiving my my house, without my kids.
Craigslist Angels — One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure — Giving Away Christmas Decorations Can Be A Very Good Thing.
My friends and family were horrified that I only bought a soft, stuffed doll for my five-month-old daughter for her first Christmas. She was capable of holding the infant toys her not-yet-three-year-old brother had had and given up. Now, she had a doll to chew on. Forty-two-years later, I still think I am right. She feels at this late date that I did not do the right thing by her.
I love the goggle request.
I think you did right by her. I’m the youngest in my family. My mom still laughs about my first Christmas when they realized they forgot to get something for the baby! I lived. I think the only issue was that they didn’t want the older kids to think that Santa forgot the baby. But it was all good. I also benefited from having older siblings (don’t tell them I told you) and watched them with their own kids. My oldest sister was big on going small for the little ones. I remember Christmas when my sister had a two year old and a baby and we just propped that baby up in a chair and she watched all the hustle and bustle and the lights and then went to sleep. They really do end up playing with the boxes and bags or one favorite stuffed animal or something they can put in their mouths. And it is nice to enjoy those simpler times when a little thing can make them so happy.
BLESS YOU! I am in the same camp as far as the infants gifts go…my kids get SO much year round that I feel like spending HUGE amounts at Christmas when they are so young is crazy.
throw in my disdain for the holidays this year and my husband is calling me grinch …
Yes, babies don’t need much. I sometimes can be a Grinch but it helps when something simple can make somebody’s day. I hope I can do that this year.
Alpine Boy’s fourth birthday is two days before Christmas so he’s got two presents to think of. What has he asked for? A green ball. And a teddy he can take to bed. Ok then! Alpine Girl will be seven months old at Christmas so is likely to get a cardboard box – I agree with you on that one!
You see? He wants a green ball. It doesn’t matter what the ads tell you he should have, he wants that ball. I had a girl who wanted a car. Not the remote control kind, just a car she could roll. That’s what she got. As for Alpine Girl, she’ll love the box. The little ones just love the boxes.
Great list and so true. I’ve never understood the idea of dressing up kids in designer/expensive clothing when they grow out of them in 3 months. I mean, does a 2 year old really know she’s wearing D&G?
I agree, I feel that way especially about designer shoes for babies. They grow out of them in minutes. Plus, babies don’t actually need shoes at all if they aren’t walking yet. They do enjoy the shoe boxes, though.
I still enjoy the occasional stuffed animal as a present.
I know, right? Or a soft blanket.
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