Christmas Gifts

Posted on | December 19, 2011 | 18 Comments

This is, obviously, my first Christmas as a single parent. 

Because it is my first Christmas, I’m still learning the ropes… learning how to make the right choices for myself and my son.  And it’s hard.  There’s no real guidebook for how to handle divorce appropriately when kids are involved… or if there is, I haven’t read it and don’t really have time to read it in the first place. So J and I are sort of making our own rules and seeing how they pan out.

The biggest question mark for me is how to handle gift-giving.  I am taking care of myself from J… I set a dollar limit and went about buying myself several things I wanted… several frivolous things that I would have felt silly asking someone else for.  And I’ve taken care of my side of the family as well.

But J has another side to his family.

And I don’t know what to do about them, to be honest.

Is it my responsibility to buy gifts from J to his grandparents on R’s side or is it R’s responsibility? Is it my responsibility to buy a gift from J to his father when I know full well that his father will not be buying a gift from J to me?  These are questions I worry about.  I want so very badly to do this “right” for J.  I want him to grow up well-adjusted and happy.  And part of making sure that he is happy is making sure that Christmas runs smoothly.  So ultimately I made a decision.  I am giving J $10 and setting him loose in the dollar store to pick out whatever he wants to give to his father, his grandparents, and his aunt and uncle. 

The gifts will probably be hilarious.

But you know what?   He will hand-pick each gift out and say “This is for Aunt S, this is for Uncle T, this is for Mimi…” and so on and so on.  Will they appreciate the gifts? I think so.  I think they’ll understand that these were the personally selected presents of a rambunctious two year old.  They’ll know that he selected and wrapped them all with love, even if they are strange and curious and maybe a little more for J in some instances.

Besides… this is a great way for me to reinforce to J just how important giving is.  On Saturday, we took $100 and bought gift cards to Target and Walmart and handed them out to the first five people we saw.  J wore a Santa hat and said “Merry Christmas!” as he handed out his cards and he loved every minute.  When he was all out, he asked for more and said “I wanna play Santa again?”  I want J to grow up to believe that the real joy of Christmas is in the giving… not in the receiving. 

Even if he is super excited about Santa bringing presents.


18 Responses to “Christmas Gifts”

  1. @TheNextMartha
    December 19th, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

    Fantastic. Can we start placing bets on what he picks out for his dad? I’m going to go with kitchen sponge. $1. Love that you played Santa with him too. So sweet.

  2. Jess
    December 19th, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

    You are awesome. Super duper awesome. Really.

  3. Kathleen Cooney Hess
    December 19th, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

    GREAT IDEA!!!!! I think it shows your son, that you love his family and it will be great to let him pick out their gifts. I still have a plastic pencil sharpener that my nephew bought me when he was 4 at a christmas boutique! you are handling this all so well, you should be proud!

  4. Monk
    December 19th, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

    monk, you are a fantastic mother.
    I think the idea of letting J pick out the gifts is perfect. and it also will start teaching him budgeting (something I am still learning ha)

  5. Heather Griffitts Clark
    December 19th, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

    Being from a divorced family, having divorced siblings and a husband was married, then (obviously) divorced before I was in the picture, I would say that R’s family is his responsibility. The gift FOR R from J, though, would be where you’d take the higher road (I know, I know, he doesn’t deserve it) and help J with a gift.

    I think it’s important for J to be giving his dad a gift for all the reason you mentioned; the importance of generosity, the focus on others instead of oneself. Until he’s old enough to get to the store himself and have the funds to do so, it would rest on your shoulders to make sure that happens.

    At least – that’s how it has happened in our various divorced families.

    I’ve seen how not doing that can really be detrimental. I have a young nephew who did not have a present for his dad (my brother) on various holidays because my ex-SIL didn’t bother to help him get a gift. My nephew was crushed when gift giving time came and he had nothing. The look on his face and ensuing tears said so much about the ex and her concern for her son….I would think it’s not worth how it’d make J feel if he didn’t have a gift for his dad.

  6. Delia
    December 19th, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

    My first thought is that you would help J buy his gift for dad, and dad takes care of the rest. Meaning R should also be purchasing something for you from J. You’re probably right in that it won’t happen (line up a friend to help J out for Mother’s Day now!). I think what you have done is a great idea and will teach him more in the end.

  7. Kristinayellow
    December 19th, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

    I love that idea; I was trying to think of a concrete way for DD to learn about giving. We’ve limited gifts (Santa brings 3 and then her dad and I buy a few small things) but at her age she’s still happier playing with the boxes and unwrapping things anyway. I think you are doing a great job; just the fact that you are even concerned about gifts for his other side of the family shows that he will grow up knowing how thoughtful you are.

  8. StartinOverWonderful
    December 19th, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

    I can’t wait to read the follow up post about what he ended up picking!

  9. MM
    December 19th, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

    What no one has mentioned is making gifts. It takes time and energy on your part, and maybe you’d see that as time and energy spent on R’s family. Look at it as awesome quality time with your amazing son creating things for those people, joy for him, and happy memories for you. With my 21 mos old I did ornaments from salt dough, with paint and glitter, cookies (from sugar dough), and paintings cut, laminated, and turned into bookmarks. Then you can get some lovely keepsake present, too. So much fun! (spread over weeks of nights and weekends)

  10. Jo
    December 19th, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

    I have my son make gifts for the holidays for his dad and grandma (but not the whole extended family). At first, it annoyed me that my ex never did the same, but now I choose to see it as another affirmation that I am the better person. 🙂

  11. Jessyca Carr
    December 19th, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

    Giving him money to pick out a present for his dad and family is perfect, and will be funny for many years to come. My ex was horrible at gifts and pictures, so at Christmas, I send a card with a great picture of *only* our daughter, and she signs them. (When she was J’s age, she would scribble on them – so, still signed by her lol) But I wouldn’t send a note or anything else, just the picture. I’ve been told time and time again how much they appreciate it.

  12. Jackie Henson
    December 20th, 2011 @ 2:02 am

    your are awesome in the way you handle yourself & the way you are teaching your little guy how to be & how to treat people. you make me believe that you can make it through a divorce with children even if it sucks and certain moments are harder than other ones

  13. Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments
    December 20th, 2011 @ 11:01 am

    As a twice divorced child (yes my mom divorced my father then my step-father) I think what you’re doing is fantastic. I wish my mom had given me $10 for the dollar store or even acknowledged that I had another family that I loved. You’re doing a great job momma!

    Love the playing Santa bit too – I think I’m going to steal that one!

  14. MaconMom
    December 20th, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

    That is a great idea and a great to handle the situation with grace (which I have so little of…hahaha). I love the ideas you share with all of us!
    I love that you guys played Santa and totally made their day! Don’t mind if I steal that little idea, do you?
    You truly rock! I’ll be more than happy to take J shopping for Mother’s Day!

  15. Chunky Mama
    December 20th, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

    The dollar store thing is actually a GREAT idea. I am totally stealing it. 🙂

  16. Taming Insanity
    December 20th, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    PLUS it teaches him the value of a dollar which I love.

  17. Billymarykeister
    December 20th, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

    I was going to suggest the 1 store, let J pick something for Daddy. You should only get gifts for the ex-family if it brings you joy, and if they treat you right. Merry Christmas, and I did not get gifts for my ex because I could not afford them, he bought his own EXPENSIVE gifts. Mary

  18. Nelly2000
    December 30th, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

    Awesome !!!!! Love the Santa to strangers idea!! I have a niece and a nephew from divorced famlies and think what you did was great. I wish my brother could get over some of hig anger toward his ex and not stoop to her level sometimes but then again her mommy never askedmfor her the week of Christmas either andit was her time to have her. So shows where her priorities are I guess!

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