Culture, Daily Life, Parenting

The Best Gifts You Can Give This Year

It’s that time of year again where people gather together and stand shoulder to shoulder to wait in line for those “must have” gadgets and toys that will bring a smile to the faces of their loved ones this holiday season. It’s that time of year when, no matter how bad the state of our economy seems, people are still out there spending money. It’s the season of “lay away” and “interest free financing” to make gift giving a little easier for families who live paycheck to paycheck. It’s that season. Now that my daughter is old enough to appreciate the holidays a little more than last year (she was only 10 months old at Christmas time in 2011), I understand that desire parents have to find a gift that will make their children happy. I get it, I really do.

I remember when I was younger. My parents were divorced and I lived half way across the country from my dad. That was hard. One Christmas, I can’t remember what year it was, I received a massive box of gifts from my dad for my birthday and Christmas (my birthday is a week before Christmas). I couldn’t be in the Midwest to celebrate the holiday with him and so he wanted to send me something that would make my holiday a little more special. I can’t tell you why that Christmas, in particular, comes to mind as I write this but it does. I think it’s because it was one of the first holidays where I was acutely aware of how much I was missing out on a relationship with my own dad. Through no fault of his own (we moved to the East Coast after my parents divorced and my dad was stationed at an Air Force Base in the Midwest) he wasn’t there and I remember how, even though I was thankful and happy for the gifts he’d sent, I would have given all of that up for a little more time with him.

I’ll be honest, I’m not cool enough to know what the most popular gifts advertisers are pushing this year and I couldn’t tell you what the new gaming system even is or what games should be at the top of your holiday gift giving list this year. But I don’t think any of that really matters. You could spend every last dollar you have on some great gadget that will inevitably become outdated next year. So maybe this year you could give something that nobody else can give your child: you.

Give your time. Put down your cell phones, your laptops, turn off your televisions and spend some real, quality time with your children. Do a puzzle, have a dance party, laugh, tell stories, read a book. Give them your complete and undivided attention. Included with C’s holiday gifts this year I plan to have a bowl with 365 little ideas for her and I to do in 2013. Some of them will be extra hugs and kisses and some of them will be a trip to the park or to the zoo or even just some quiet time alone with mommy. Regardless, I’m more excited about this gift than any other because it’s one that’s really for both of us.

So, as you head out to do your shopping think about what kinds of gifts really matter this holidays season.

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