Menifee Mom: The Simple Gifts Can Be The Best Ones

By Karen Thomas

Over the years, we have experienced the agony of having our kids ask for one of the year’s "Hot Toys" for Christmas.

Before I had kids, I saw the frenzy surrounding toys like "Tickle Me Elmo" and "Cabbage Patch Dolls." I just didn’t understand it. But then I became a parent and experienced "FurReal Friends," "Zhu Zhu Pets," "Pillow Pets"” and "Nintendo Wii."

I’ve never camped out to get an item or pushed my way through crowds, but I have kept my eye out online and kept my eyes open in the store, hoping I might snag that most wanted item. I do like to bring joy to my kids at Christmas, but I’m not willing to go to extremes.

I always figure if nothing else, they can wait until Easter and I will find something else they will love. It’s a reality of life that we just don’t always get what we want, but it is nice if it we can make it happen.

This year, for various reasons, we told the kids that we were keeping Christmas pretty low-key. As a result, our older kids kept their lists to more practical items they wanted. And somehow even our younger kids didn’t zone in on all the commercial advertising for toys, but instead focused on a few things they’ve really wanted throughout the year.

I will admit that I was a little worried that Christmas morning would come as a disappointment. However, it wasn’t at all. Instead, each child got a couple things they really appreciated and were surprised to get a few extra things.

What really struck me, however, were the gifts that brought joy to my 5-year-old. Unlike Christmases in the past, it wasn’t anything you’d see advertised on TV or in the Sunday paper. What she loved most was the hula hoop and hopper ball she got from Santa: Two classic (and inexpensive) toys that have been around for years. She’s been playing with them all day!

For me, the Christmas stress was the lowest it has been in years. I never realized how much time I have spent worrying and fretting about buying the right gifts. I’m hoping that somehow this can carry on to future years and that my kids can remember that it doesn’t take a ton of "stuff" to make a great Christmas.

It’s time spent with family and friends and focusing on the reason for the season that makes it the "most wonderful time of the year."

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every Thursday. Comments are welcome.


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