Tag Archives: gifts

This one little thing

Every once in a while, I get fixated on this one little thing. It might be having my son participate in his preschool Christmas program, or my daughter take dance lessons (okay, that one hasn’t happened yet). I want my child to do this thing that really isn’t all that important in the long run, but for some reason it means something to me, like singing “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” in front of 75 strangers proves I’m raising a well-adjusted three-year-old.

Um, no?

Yes, it’s not asking much. But it seems like when I get so excited about these supposedly fun little things, they never go how I want.

The same thing seems to happen with little things that might not be so little—the small gestures I anticipate, like that first smile or first Mother’s day card will be the one little thing that convinces me this motherhood thing is worth it, that I’m not driving myself nuts watching Curious George and teaching the alphabet and trying to get! them! to! share! completely in vain.

Those are the little things that are really dangerous, because I can become so fixated on them that they become the reason for motherhood itself. And when they don’t come—and it seems like they never do—I’m so ready to give up. “All I wanted,” I want to scream at the heavens, “was this one stupid little thing. This one gesture to tell me I’m doing the right thing—one tiny tender mercy. Why are you withholding it from me?”

I’ve gotten better about these little things, but sometimes they sneak up on me. Hayden was “keeping a secret” about his Mother’s day gift at school (not really at all): a book he was writing for me. (It’s his second. He’s pretty prolific; he gets it from me. 😉 ) It was supposed to be a book about how great I am.

I knew better than to get my hopes up. I mean, the child is six. For Christmas, he got me an airhorn at the dollar store, an “attention-er,” he called it. I’ve never received a gift that filled me with so much guilt: my first thought was that he was under the impression that I yelled all the time and needed the help. (Ryan set me straight: he was five. He thought it would be fun. Therefore, he reasoned, I must have thought it would be fun. Child logic.)

Still, Hayden was very excited about his book. A few days before Mother’s day, I arrived to pick him up, and he was distraught. “The wind blew your book away!” he pouted. And it had, the staff verified: this four page book he’d spent all week on had been taken by the (surprisingly stiff) wind.

I was not going to accept this! We marched four blocks, scouring in yards and under cars, looking for that book. And I’ll admit it, my mind really wanted to go to that “Why are you taking this one stupid little thing from me?” place. That “Why can’t I get the smallest vote of ‘thanks, Mom, nice job’?” place. That “Do you not care?” place.

The search seemed to mollify Hayden, at least—my biggest concern at the time (yes, it was). He told me what the book said (I’m a great cook and I give him hugs), and said he’d make another at school the next day.

After we’d been home for a while, I remembered his teacher was sending home a certificate for some award he’d earned. I didn’t know what it was, exactly, so I was pretty surprised to find the president’s signature on the certificate:

As proud and as happy as that made me, though, it paled in comparison to the other homework he brought home:


It’s not about these little things. It’s about the sentiment behind them. And that will be there whether I get the book or the air horn or nothing at all.

How have you found fulfillment this week?

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My kids saw their gifts–now what?

I love surprises, and to me, surprises are part of the joy of giving gifts. In the interest of keeping everything a surprise for Christmas, Saturday I pulled out all my kids’ gifts from me and wrapped almost all of them. I decided to save four odd-shaped ones until later, when I’d have more boxes to wrap in.

(Don’t feel too bad, I’m not that on top of things: it’s December, and also, I just bought the stuff the day before.)

And then, like an idiot, I left ALL the presents in the middle of the family room. The kids got up before me the next day and found the gifts. Oy.

I asked my mom what to do and she recommended I tell them how we were planning on donating some toys to charity (and, of course, actually doing so—just not with those particular toys).

I like this idea a lot because it kills two birds—or some less violent cliché. I want Christmas to be about giving (you know, after being about Jesus), especially giving to those in need, and I want to involve my kids in that. And of course, I want them to still be surprised on Christmas day. (That might be three birds.)

Since the kids are getting new toys for Christmas, I really want them to pick at least a few toys of theirs that they don’t really play with anymore that we can donate to other kids. (This also helps to make room for our incoming toys.) It’s a little hard to find places that want used toys, but I’m thinking a local women’s shelter and possibly the food bank (they take used toys for only their waiting room, but still).

A few useful links:
Kids’ Health article on getting your kids to donate their toys
And a fun lesson to help emphasize Jesus at Christmastime when Santa offer stiff competition: Santa as a type of Christ (seriously!)

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Impromptu neighbor gifts

I’ll be honest. I don’t particularly enjoy spending days slaving over a hot oven to prepare baked goods to show my neighbors which among them are my favorites. (Hi guys!) I personally would not be the slightest bit offended if we didn’t get any neighbor gifts.

But this week, I discovered the best neighbor gifts ever. I was all set to host my book club Thursday night—I’d read the book, cleaned the house, picked up refreshments (again, not spending the day mixing and baking), made cocoa (one homemade thing, plus milk was $1.85/gal!), warmed those not-even-semi-homemade cookies in the oven, set out the Little Debbies, fed the baby—and then we waited.

No one was early.

No one was right on time.

No one was five minutes late.

No one was ten minutes late.

No one was twenty minutes late.

At that point, we decided no one was coming—and we had more than a gallon of hot cocoa on the stove. And we had nothing to store it in, thanks to Ryan’s slightly overzealous cleaning, taking out the empty milk jug.

So we bundled up the kids, grabbed a tray of cookies and the pot of cocoa and headed to visit our neighbors. (This never happens in the winter, okay? It’s cold out there!) We spent a delightful couple of hours visiting with them, their older daughters taking turns holding a very placid Rebecca and their sons and youngest daughter playing with Hayden—and I even got to discuss the book club book!

We told them that would “count” for our neighbor gift and a better way of expressing how much we really enjoy having them as neighbors I can’t imagine. Thanks for having us, especially on such short notice!

For the boy who has everything

Okay, so maybe Hayden doesn’t have everything, but the kid’s got it pretty good. He’s got dozens of toys and only his parent to share them with—and a birthday coming up.

What do you get a little boy that doesn’t really need more toys for his birthday? (Great toy suggestions are, of course, welcome, too.)

I had a couple ideas:

  • Outdoor furniture. (No, really—I saw this cute plastic Adirondack table and chairs set at the store and thought that would be fun for Hayden in the summer. Not now with our six+ inches of snow, though.)
  • Books. (When shopping for friends, you may want to get suggestions for their library, just so you don’t get them something they already have.)
  • Art supplies/crafts. (Even Hayden loves to color. Especially nice—something they can do together as a family.)

What else will make a kid’s life complete?