Appreciated Value - Christmas Gifts with Lots of Meaning
When I think back on my childhood Christmases, I don’t really remember the presents. Sure, I can still remember the big ones…a complete set of all the wands from Harry Potter which I used to wage imaginary wars across the house, my first bike –it was blue and white with pink tassels hanging from the handles, a little white box with pink letters on the front saying some cliche little girl phrase like “girl magic” or “too fab”.
But when I truly think back I don’t remember much about what sat under the tree. I remember more the traditions and love that went into Christmas day. I remember the smell of baking cookies and trying to ice them beautifully for Santa to enjoy, I remember making reindeer food and sprinkling it in the front yard for the reindeer who were doing all the hard work and were forgotten, I remember building the Christmas village with my mom. When I look back, these memories are what Christmas means.
I am by no means saying don’t get your child that giant animatronic dinosaur or pretty princess playhouse they want. What I’m saying is that yes, Christmas is about gifts, but it’s about so much more too. It’s about sharing –sharing food, memories, your time with another person, your love.
This Christmas, I wrote down a few ideas that children will appreciate when they’re older and the allure or shiny and new isn’t so strong.
1- Stock in a company made on the day your child was born
This might be the weakest on the list, but I still think it’s such a fun little idea. There are always jokes about getting savings bonds or stocks for Christmas and how much children hate them, but as a 23-year-old trying to figure out finances and life at the moment, I wish I had a few shares about now. For me, the tv network Ion was created on the day I was born. It’s amazing to see a company the exact age as you and watch their highs-and-lows as you experience your own. Plus, it’s nice to know that if they’re at a current high, that means money for you if you wanted to sell.
2- Build a Christmas village together
When I was young, my mother and I used to build a Christmas village. Each year, we would go to the store and pick out a new piece to add to our village. A snow-covered tree, a little boy ice skating, a park bench, it was a fun little game of make-believe to build an entire village from scratch. I used to make up stories about the villagers and move them around as Christmas came closer.
It was a wonderful memory of my childhood that I hold onto. Building a Christmas village with your child is a wonderful gift to give because it’s the gift of tradition. As years go by and your Christmas village turns into a small city, your child can take the village and continue the tradition with their own families, remembering their childhood Christmases along the way.
3- A quilt made from their baby clothes OR your old clothes
This one can only work if you’re crafty, know someone crafty, or want a more rugged chic look. It’s easy enough, take any old clothes, whether your own or from when your child was younger, and sew them together to make a memory quilt. It’s something so simple but it will last forever. Trust me, I wish I had a quilt full of my childhood memories, it would make a fantastic security blanket when being an adult feels too hard.
4- A mixtape of all the songs you played in the car as they were growing up
This is the ultimate nostalgia trip and I promise, as your child gets older and they slowly begin to forget the little things about being a child, they will wholeheartedly love to listen to the songs you used to listen to. It’ll feel like teleporting into the backseat of your car as you drove them to school.
5- A booklet of every Christmas letter they’ve written
This one takes some preparation but is such a sweet idea full of memories. Children write letters to Santa every year, of course, but whatever happens to them once Santa has read them? Why not save them all and, when your child is old enough, give them a complete set of all the things they even wished for? It’s like rereading old diary entries and remembering how they used to make you feel.
6- A tree-topper or special ornament
Craft an ornament or tree topper with your child, or just pick out a really really cool one, and make sure you use it every year. Make a special ceremony or pick a special song to play as you finally place it on the tree. As time goes on and we all can’t spend Christmas together with the way we used to, it’ll be a nice little homage to their childhood and a wonderful remembrance of all the Christmases that led to now.
7- Create a new family heirloom
I always hear about family heirlooms, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually met someone who had one. And when I do hear about friends of friends who have one, it’s always some antique silver set or pocket watch from a great-great-great-great grandfather who held it while he fought in World War II. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with cherishing a memento from a relative you know nothing about besides his military history, why do we feel the need to only count things as heirlooms when they belong to someone far off? And why does it have to be something so foreign to our current everyday lives?
When my grandfather died, we had to go to his house and box up his stuff. As we were doing so, I found an old Beatles record. I think it was from the 70s/80s, not a first edition or anything. It had water stains on the casing and a little frayed around the edges, but it still played perfectly. I took it to remember my grandfather. Now, every time I play it, I think of him and remember spending Thanksgiving with him every year. A few years later when I graduated high school, my father bought me a little locket as a congratulation. It had my name written on it. I broke the chain almost immediately and replaced it with a cheap one from Walmart that turned my neck green. Still, it hung proudly on my memories bulletin board while I was in college and when I looked at it, I thought of him. I still have a plush sheep that my mother bought me for Easter that sits on my bed every night.
Family heirlooms do not have to be something with monetary value, it’s supposed to be sentimental. And it doesn’t have to be old and ancient to count, it could be something bought yesterday. As long as you look at it, you’re overfilled with love and remembrance for the person responsible for giving it to you.
8- Make a new Christmas tradition
In the same vein as making a family heirloom or a special tree topper, making a Christmas tradition is a wonderful gift your child can appreciate as they grow older and, if times are tough, it’s something that will make Christmas amazing without a lot of money. It can be anything from watching a specific movie (my mother made us watch It’s A Wonderful Life every year and I still think of her whenever I watch it), a cookie bake-off with the winner’s cookies being for Santa and the “losers” being for the family, decorating an ornament every year…it can be absolutely anything! The most important part is to make a tradition that will last generations and fill your heart with love and nostalgia as time goes on.
9- Homemade cookbook of all their favorite recipes
This is one that I wish my mother would do for me (wink wink, mom, because I know you’re reading this!). I come from an Italian/Greek/Guatemalan household, so food is its own love language. Each dish unlocks certain memories: avgolemono soup when I’m sick, lasagna when a bunch of families is coming over, pupusas for those random nights in between. Creating a complete cookbook of all your family’s favorite recipes is a wonderful gift for your child so, when they’re older, they can remake their favorite childhood dishes and remember them.
10- A yearly video recap
This is a gift my sister does for her two babies, but she does it for their birthday rather than Christmas. Either way, it’s a wonderful way to wrap up the year with all the funny/sweet videos and photos you’ve taken of your child through the year. Even though my nieces are only 2 and 4, they love watching their yearly videos and remembering all the fun things that happen. They’ll even comment on memories they’ve forgotten, like a trip to the park or zoo, and comment on something not in the video, like a duck that was waddling by just beyond the camera. No matter how young (or old) they are, children never get tired of staring at themselves. And, as they get older and naturally forget what it was like to be 3-years-old, it’ll be a wonderful way to look back in time.
The important thing about Christmas is to make memories and traditions that outlive us and spread for the whole family to enjoy. So, try and start a new Christmas tradition this year that your child will grow to love…as well as that new Hot Wheels. They have to enjoy Christmas this year too, right?
Morgan Galvez is a freelance writer and editor with a BA in English (with a concentration in writing, rhetoric, and publication) from the College of Charleston. She is currently building her freelancing career through positions at Brainfuse and Fiverr.