Lessons in Motherhood and Gift-Giving

Lessons in Motherhood and Gift-Giving

A few days ago, my oldest, Evangeline, turned 4-years-old. I had been planning to start a new tradition of making a photo book of the year for each of my kids birthdays – but after going through all my photos and photo books and scrapbooks, I’ve realized I need to choose a more “green” option that jives with my new minimalist lifestyle. So, I put together a quick video of highlights from her first year using the Google Photos app.

Voila! Memories stored for a lifetime! [Assuming there is no apocalyptic event that destroys all power on the planet – and in that case, I probably won’t be strolling down memory lane very often anyway.]

You can watch the video at this link:

Today was the party – a unicorn party.

Even though it was a small “family only” gathering and the majority of our local family couldn’t come, it was still a lot of fun – maybe even more fun because the absence of kids forced the adults to participate in the “Pin the Horn on the Unicorn” game. [Yes, there is video evidence below.]

Because of the changes we’ve been making to our perspective on waste and excess and consumerism and …life in general, we made two changes to how we celebrate birthdays in our family.

First, we emphasize experiences over gifts. On her actual birthday, Brett took the day off so we could all enjoy a day at the community pool [which is more like a water park]. We gave her a gift, but rather than making that a focal point of the day, we set it out in the living room the night before so she could discover it in the morning and then we didn’t talk about gifts again. We focused the day around the activities we were doing together.

To be honest, I’m having a hard time figuring out where I stand on the gift-giving thing. On the one hand, I love to give gifts. Brett and I enjoy giving gifts to our family members on holidays and birthdays and we make it a priority to give a gift to all the nieces and nephews each year. But on the other hand, I don’t want my kids thinking that birthdays and holidays are all about getting stuff, so I prefer that people not give gifts to my kids on these occasions. But I realize that is hypocritical of me, so I am trying to find a solution. I think we are going to try to find a way to give more experience gifts and fewer objects – and whenever possible, give the gift of quality time, which is the best gift we can give to our loved ones.

Second, we gave Evangeline a used gift. It was something she really, really wanted – a baby stroller – and of course, she has no idea that it wasn’t new nor does she care in the least. The motive here is not at all financial. It is sustainability. I don’t care what an item costs. I’m more concerned about the environmental impact of constantly making new things while sending old things to a landfill. I’m committed to buying used toys [just like my commitment to buying used or sustainably sourced clothing] because this just makes sense.

I realize that this won’t always work because my kids will undoubtedly grow up some day [😭] and start caring about price tags and all that [though not if I can help it] and they will want the latest and greatest stuff. But at 4-years-old, my daughter just wanted something with wheels to push her stuffed animals around in. If only life would stay this simple forever.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Evangeline. 💕


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