I don't think I can take any credit for this one, since I've always struggled with being, essentially, a pretty selfish person. But our kids were born with a greater generosity than I've ever had and all in all we've tried to emphasize Christmas as a season of meaning and family, not a holiday of getting presents. Luckily, we set things up from the get-go by announcing that Santa brings one present per child, and on Christmas Eve we've given the kids each a book and that's it. So they've never expected a pile of presents under the tree and I think in retrospect that was a good path to take. I especially feel for families who have built up a Christmas tradition of mountains of presents and then this year find themselves in a financial pinch (as so many of us are in this economy). With kids, it's always harder to undo than it is to do.
Although they are essentially good-hearted kids, I was still really moved this year to see how Mackenzie and Asa have embraced this as a season of giving, not getting. First of all, Mackenzie went to pick out Asa's present. He went to a local bead store and picked out by hand a bunch of different beads, all in Asa's favorite colors. He wrapped them up with different kinds of earring wires and a craft-style case to sort and carry it all in, and voila she had her own earring-making kit. She took that kit and made earrings not just for me, but for many different friends, and even the moms of her friends in the neighborhood. When she ran out of beads, we went back down to the bead store and she used all of her money to buy more. In the process, she bought some ceramic beads for Mackenzie in the shape of a dragon's head and teeth and made him a necklace that was really cool in a 13-year-old guy kind of way.
So for me, that was really the Christmas gift that shone out during this season, way more important than anything that could land in my stocking: watching our kids get that giving is the greatest gift of all.