I have spent most of the morning wrapping Christmas present and texting Elise (who was down the street before work) to pick up a few smaller items I had forgotten in the rush of the past few months.
Each year I bake ten Christmas cakes – mix of eight and six inch cakes for gifts – which are now wrapped and adorned with sparkly bows and ribbons just ready to be handed out. The chutneys and pickles are just waiting for the fancy labels to arrive and they can be packaged up too. All the other gifts are wrapped and under the tree with everyone having strict instructions not to touch or they will get nothing….vbg. It feels good to have all that done especially with Christmas so close.
At last I think I’m organised.
And then I started thinking…………..
Thinking about how much money Christmas costs us. Not only in toys but food and little things. Elise makes a pinata each year. While it isn’t filled with much the items she buys can cost $20 upwards and lets face it these days you don’t get much for $20. Food alone is an enormous expense and really do we need all those packets of biscuits and dip etc that I have been buying. I tend to justify it with “well at least we can live on what’s in the cupboard and I won’t have to shop over Christmas” but the reality is I still shop. I try to buy presents throughout the year taking advantage of sales etc but there is always that last minute “ohh he/she would love to have that. I don’t have much for them I will just grab it”. And once again the budget goes out the window.
Now don’t get me wrong. We are not out there buying brand new computers and cars for our kids. Nor do we buy them lots of “gifts” through out the year. Each child in our household works and gets pocket money (or money from a job in Elise’s case) that they are free to spend on whatever they like. The only rule there is that they must get birthday and christmas presents out of that money and they have to decide what they are getting and budget accordingly. We have always encouraged the children to think about what another person wants and to try and choose an appropriate gift (that they can afford) right from when they were very young. Both Ashleyand I believe that it encourages the kids to think of others and their needs not just what they want. It’s worked and each child goes to great lengths to find something that the recipent would like and that they would want to give.
So Ashley and I have made a decision. A family decision. The children were told about it today – with mixed reactions.
Next year for Christmas the goal is that we will only give hand-made presents.
The presents don’t need to be huge and they certainly don’t need to be expensive but they must have a large component of being handmade in them. Lets face it you do need to buy supplies at times and that is allowed but we are not allowed to just go down and buy a present just because you can’t think of anything or don’t want to participate. I have tried to explain the kids just how good it feels to make something with love and caring and with the recipient in mind. To put a piece of themselves into the gift – not some anonymous worker in some factory who is paid peanuts for an item that then sells for an obsene amount of money. It goes without saying that of course anyone who needs help with a gift and it’s making with receive it. Ashley and I aren’t about to throw the kids, or for that matter either of us, into the deep end with no help if it’s required. There are skills that we all have mastered and those that we haven’t and I’m hoping that this will be a learning curve for all of us in that we will try new things in the process of making the perfect gift.
James started the ball rolling this year with his gifts for the girls. I won’t go into details in case they read my blog…lol…but with help from his Dad he has come up with and made personalised and innovate presents that I’m sure the girls will love. James kept saying afterwards how good it felt to make and then wrap something that he had made!!! Now isn’t that the whole idea??
Surprisingly enough Elise was the one, who after Ashley and I, embraced the idea the most. She has already decided on her gift list (and she has only been home an hour from work) and worked out what she needs to get and is planning to make a good start on her gifts over these Christmas holidays. With Year 12 looming she knows she won’t have much time thoughout the year so time is off the essence. Add in the fact that she is giving up work to concentrate on her studies and money will be in short supply is an added incentive.
I have been cruising the web today and gathering ideas. I’m still not sure what I’m going to make but I am looking forward to this challenge so much.
Would anyone else care to join us?