Gifting

Little sister’s birthday is this week! Our baby is going to be six years old?! I swear we just had her…

As her birthday approaches with meteoric intensity, my husband and I found ourselves facing down the ominous aisles of Target. Her birthday request this year was to “be surprised” in the gift department. (Insert the “Surprise! You aren’t getting ANY gifts” joke here…).

Do you know what I remember about birthdays? My mom’s cake dome is what I remember. That’s about all I can pull from all of those birthdays and I feel like I have had a few…It was an etched glass traditional platform that held homemade cakes and made me count down the days until adulthood when I could have one. Side bar – one of my favorite gifts ever was when my brother and sister-in-law bought me one after I had casually mentioned that I never had gotten around to buying one. Isn’t that how great gifts go?

Little Sister is a tricky one and it’s hard to gauge if she is old enough to understand that a budget is a budget and if she wants a high dollar item it will be the only item that will be bought – a good time to discuss quality v quantity…

So together we stood slightly bewildered at this crazy intersection of parenting. What was too much to spend? Shouldn’t it be experience based? If she has four dolls but loves dolls is a fifth doll overkill? And on the topic of dolls can someone explain the $115 price tag for American Girl Dolls that aren’t even made in America? What am I missing there?!

Guess what we ended up buying? Nothing. We bought nothing. This is not to say that we won’t buy her a gift but that we needed a bit more time to think about what that would be…

When the girls were younger their minds were blown with water beads and a tiny play tent. I’m not sure if it’s the kids or the parents (us, not everyone) who have complicated things. As much as I want to say I am anti consumerism I have an alarming amount of stuff – so it’s hard to bristle at the idea that we should buy more stuff.

We will figure the gift part out, but in the mean time we will do the important stuff, hanging the Happy Birthday banner I bought at the dollar store twelve years ago, blowing up balloons and making a minion piñata. We will tell her the story of the night she was born and how soon she came home from the hospital and how we all fell in love with her the moment we saw her. We will tell her about who came to the hospital and how terrible the car ride home was with her overtired and beside herself sister having a complete meltdown (stuff like that is almost always an endearing story when enough time has passed, but all I could think at the time was Good Lord, what have we DONE?!).

She will know that she is loved and cherished and supported and that really is the best thing we could ever give her. Though she might point to “Samantha” in the American Girl Catalog and disagree…

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