Some of the 'biggest hit' gifts in our family have been tickets to various places of interest, such as a park, a museum, an event, an ice cream store. If the gift is made to the child, he can be the host for the entire family, which is a big ego-booster when you are nine years old.
Our favorite gift is the gift card from Walmart that we receive every year from my parents. We always use it to purchase groceries, so it's like a week's worth of groceries FREE!
This year I'm doing "service" gifts for my SIL & MIL -- housecleaning and/or menu planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation. They both work outside the home so these things will be much more appreciated than purchased items they may or may not like. In fact, a stay at home mom would enjoy these service ideas, too, including a certificate for say, 10 hours of childcare. I'm also doing a bunch of handcrafted greeting cards (using supplies I already have) for family members to use throughout the year.
I cannot imagine sending a mass email like that. I'm sure she meant well, but she dilutes her assertions that she isn't materialistic and believes that the best present is "you," when she follows with a LONG gift wish list that is very specific and rather snobby--Magic Cabin and Hearthsong are very pricey places. Her assertionabout homemade stuff is full of pressure, despite her intent of the opposite. Think about how you would feel to receive this! I would question everything I have ever given in the past. I'd wonder what she "really" thought of the homemade ACRYLIC felt ornament that I sent. After all it isn't silk or wool. God is the Giver of All Good Gifts. He ignites in all of us the desire to give and He calls us to give without counting the cost. Shouldn't we then develop a gracious attitude of accepting all gifts that come our way?If someone asks for suggestions, give a few--but without the great protests that you are far above the materialism of Christmas. I'd like to instill in my children the love for the giver--even when the gift doesn't fit my set of aesthetics and ideas of good taste. (This happens a lot). I'd like my children to respect the giver and to embrace the love that the gift represents. If we receive something that is truly immoral or dangerous, I take the opportunity to talk to the children about the reasons why we cannot keep the gift, but more importantly, that we don't want to hurt the feelings of the person who gave it. Too often in blogs, I see good, Christian people set up certain values that are really based on nothing more than their taste. We must fight being micromanagers of the taste of others--including our children as they growolder. I have a mother in law who could make you feel that it was a morally wrong choice to have green as a favorite color. Of course, that is nonsense.But, strong preferences can hinder a loving child who has different taste from feeling free to love a plastic toy or the color green, because Mama doesn't think it is right. Helping your family fight off the sin of materialism is much deeper than buying "the right stuff" and announcing how anti-materialistic you are. I worry about some of these well-intentioned women who don't see how a letter like this can really hurt the ones they love. Annie
Annie, I see your overall concern about gift lists in general. I do think you are right in that respect. We need to focus more on teaching our children to be gracious to every giver, with every gift.That's the main reason I do NOT do a gift list for our family. We freely accept the sugary chocolates my husband can't eat, the ten thousand throws and quilts that don't match my house, and the age-inappropriate gifts for the kids...from extended family who doesn't know us well enough to choose better. Or care to.On the other hand, I thought Nissa was careful to emphasize in several places that the best gifts are homemade, that they would love a visit over anything material, etc.And there were many, many items on her list which were economical: craft supplies like paper, for instance.I know my in-laws who are disconnected from all things children feel unsure about selecting toys in this lead-paint-season, and they've asked us if we would purchase gifts on their behalf. So I encourage you to give the author the benefit of the doubt and trust she knows her extended family well enough not to offend them.I do like your reminder about not becoming arbiters of taste. My kids enjoy neon Playdoh and glitter glue a lot more than I do--and they'd fall down in appreciation at the feet of whichever aunt or uncle brings it to our home! : )
My family does not request wish lists because that robs the joy of picking something out even if it isn't the "perfect" or even wanted gift. I first though it odd that my husband's parents ask us what we want each Christmas and then order right from the list and have it shipped straight to us. It seemed very impersonal to me, but they are practical and I've come to enjoy knowing the children will get that much wanted toy or specific craft items we've all been wanting to try. My reply to those family members who ask what we think about the recalls is to let them know we are being super careful. Then if they ask for what we want, we can give ideas. But I still can't give my family a wish list. It just destroys the fun for them. :) So I give general ideas and general avoids (as you listed in your criteria recently-no painted wood, no toys from China...). I have asked my dad if he can learn to whittle wood. Ha ha! :) I'm thinking I need to myself. ~Angela :)
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