a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Memories are Forever Gifts

Years ago when Dave would be on an occasional  long outing with one of the kids he would stop and buy a can of soda pop for them to share.  It was shared because that is what our budget allowed. That shared pop became a shared memory---a priceless memory.

There are many things you already do or can begin to do that bind the family together. Most of these things are very simple and quite inexpensive---even in the area of time commitment.

That was poignantly brought home to me with Jeremy's simple response to this past Monday's post.

Since this is the holiday season, I will talk about holiday things that have become priceless memories for our family. If you are in a financially comfortable position, that is terrific; money pressure is one less thing you have to worry about but...., and it is a very very important but---

In the overall scheme of things, no matter how well off you are financially, it is important to remember that, for the most part, the best things in life are not things.

  • Whenever possible we went as a family to cut our tree. When the kids were younger they played hide and seek amid the evergreens while we searched for what we felt was the perfect tree ---- then they showed up with their input. (One year, the owner of the tree farm cut off the misshapen top of a large evergreen and gave it to Heidi and Mike as financially-strapped newly married kids---a perfect Charlie Brown tree that I am sure they remember fondly.)
  • We decorated the tree as a family, and inadvertently developed traditions along the way ---- dad puts on the lights, the kids put on most of the ornaments  and mom puts on the birds and the bows. 
 My dad was born on an army post in 1910. For his first Christmas he was given a glass bugle ornament.          As I was growing up, he was the one who put that bugle on the tree. When it was damaged somehow, it was patched the best it could be. He was killed by a drunk driver 20 years ago and that Christmas my mom sent me that wonderful and still patched ornament.  I am now the one that hangs the bugle on the tree.
  •  Each year each kid received an ornament as their gift from an aunt and uncle. They were excited to have a gift to open early.  As they left home they had a memory-laden ornament collection to take with them. We adopted that gift idea for our nieces and nephews and later, for their kids.
  •  To ease financial strain, we have come up with various ways over the years to draw names for gift-giving limiting the amount that could be spent. Now, with most of them married, names are drawn (actually rotated) between the families. Lots of thought and creativity and fun...and sometimes weirdness goes into these gifts.
  • We try to have most of our shopping, sewing and creating done before December so we can enjoy the month without those pressures. We leave small things to buy and take each child out, one at a time, for a shopping trip with us. We window shop and get ideas on things they would like. They purchase their gift for the name they drew and help us select some of the things we need to buy. We end the trip with a treat of their choice.
  • We have never had a chimney so our kids' stockings are always placed by their beds with care. Contents always include mini-boxes of cereal and a banana, which they eat Christmas morning (often right there in their beds before Dave and I were even up!), and something to keep them busy so we could sleep a little longer----often a book.
  • On Christmas morning, the kids all lined up in reverse age order (see last Monday's post) to go in to see the tree. Dave was the traditional gift-retriever. He passed them out one at a time and we all watched while each opens their gift. It was fun to see reactions, it made the occasion more meaningful, and it spread out the gift-opening time---which is good when the number of gifts is limited!
Hopefully I have listed something that sparks a new idea for you. All of the above are simple things because . . .
         I am Simply, Gail

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