This year I wanted to teach Lucas that Christmas is about giving, not just receiving. He's got the receiving thing sorted, especially after just having a birthday. I decided it's time to give him a lesson on giving and the joy that brings.
Of course kids learn what they see, so Lucas sees that we give love and gifts to our friends and family, teachers and community. We give, with birthdays, charities and every year we donate gifts to the wishing tree and food to the food banks. Yet it is not him directly giving. This year I thought it would be good for Lucas to do the giving, so he is giving something small to family members.
Before we went shopping I worded him up about our task. Then one afternoon, after school, two weeks prior to Christmas (am I crazy??) I prepared myself for the people and pre-Christmas rush at the local shipping centre and off we went shopping for gifts.
Before we went in I told Lucas there was a STRICT budget
for the cousins - $10 and a slightly larger budget for brother and sister - $20.
In the first 15 minutes there was a lot of 'he would love this' - pointing at a $150 nerf gun. Umm - no. We need to look for something that is in our budget honey!
At the start of the shopping trip I let Lucas direct us - so of course we headed straight to the toys
And then he was ready to buy everyone the toys that he wanted....I'm not sure you cousin wants that car sweetie....'Well if she doesn't want it the. She can give it to me!' Clever thinking but not quite the spirit of giving that we are aiming for!
We started getting some great ideas..then things went off track. I had told Lucas he was also allowed to have a small toy. Yes, I'm a softie and I think it's hard to buy for so many others and not get something. His budget was $5 (I assumed it would be a matchbox car)
So there was a period in the middle of the shopping when we stalled, when Lucas was busy trying to figure out which toy he wanted to buy for himself. Hang on - this trip is about others! So I gently reminded him that this trip was about others, not about him and I gave him a warning (ultimatum?) He had to the count of 3 to choose something otherwise he got nothing. And he had chosen before I got to #2.
The great news is that he has chosen something for all the people on his list, and within budget....and it ended up taking about an hour. During the process I really went through phases of complete frustration. (Oh hurry up - no you ca't have that game.) But like many things where we are teaching our kids new things, it's slower than if we do it ourselves, but it really is worth it.
When we got home he pleaded to wrap the presents that he had bought. I can't wait for Christmas, to watch him give these gifts to everyone with the sense of giving and happiness that I know he will feel. He is so proud of the things he bought, and wants to give them early!
It's important that we remember that the kids need to be taught some of these things, and we need to give them the time and responsibility to learn. It would have been so much easier for me to buy things and put his name on them, but Lucas would not be invested in the process as much as he is now.
It takes time to teach life skills, like budgeting, cooking, cleaning and even giving.
Merry Christmas xx