I've been trying to hammer home to William the point that Christmas is not about just getting presents. I've been trying to emphasize the whole birth-of-Jesus angle and the whole do-unto-others aspect.
I really wanted to do an angel tree or something similar this year, too, but it just didn't happen. So we're going to try to do some small "giving" things this year, and next year, we'll step up and do something larger.
So I suggested something to William, something that I figured he could easily get his brain around: giving a present to someone he loves very much. "Let's go to the store and you can pick out a Christmas present for your brother," I said.
See what I was going for? Getting him to learn how to give presents, not just get them.
William whined, "But I don't know what to pick!"
Me: "That's why we'll go look. You can look around and see what you like, and then you can pick something out."
This seems easy enough, one would think. Well. It took us about three different visits to two stores before I finally just lost patience and said, "Just pick something!"
Of course, he finally picked something that I probably wouldn't have picked. It was a little toddler keyboard. You can play it like a keyboard, or you can set it to play songs. It has these little moving figurines on top, too. And requires a handful of batteries, not included. Of course. Now that I'm thinking about it, it really isn't a bad choice. It doesn't light up or laugh maniacally or consist of many small easily-lost pieces. At least theoretically, it's even sort of educational. And it's not that big, so it won't take up a ton of valuable family room or play room real estate.
But William mainly picked it, I think, to get Mom off his back. And so he could go look at the trains in the toy store. I put the toy away when we got home, and it was like we never even bought it. William promptly forgot all about it. So I'm not sure how much of a lesson it was.
I'm holding out more hope, however, for the shopping trip to buy food to take to the Christmas Eve service at our church. Last year, we talked for days about how we were going to bring food to help feed people who are hungry. And then, a day or so before the Christmas Eve service, I took him to the store, and he picked out a bunch of cans of green beans and green peas to take as his offering for the food pantry. And he was so proud of himself, carrying them up to the manger during the service. I hope he'll be so enthusiastic this year, too.
And he did like the idea of donating some cold-weather gear to the "warming tree" at his preschool. I sent him to school with some gloves and hats to put on the tree as gifts for children who might not have nice new gear to keep them warm this winter. His teacher had to remind him to do it, but at least it seemed to make some impression on him, which is what I was hoping for.
I realize that this isn't much. But I wanted to try to do something to make my point. It'd be easy for me to just give things to people, but I want my child (and now children) to understand that they, too, can give. We can ratchet it up next year and then again the year after that. But we had to start somewhere.