I love Christmas. I love most things about Christmas.
No season is perfect, but I love so many things about Christmas: celebrating the birth of our Savior, listening to Christmas songs, putting up the Christmas tree and finding just the right spot for each ornament, making cookies and yummy treats, and driving around the town to look at the glimmering lights.
And I love picking out gifts for friends and family.
Ok, ok. I like to pick out gifts as long as I’m not in a rush. Generally, it turns into what can I get in a day. Hello, Amazon Prime. But I’m thinking about gifts earlier this year. I don’t know if that will translate into purchasing gifts any sooner, but it’s a start.
Our Christmas will be a little different this year. It’s our first year as foster parents, and we are blessed to have people asking what they can get our girls. Seriously, I know that’s a privilege. I hope you have those people in your life too!
It’s made me think. What should we request if people are asking? How should we think about gifts? What do we put on the list? How can we be intentional in our ask?
Consider these three things before you write your list.
Keep the long view in mind.
Above all, we want to be consistent with what we value as a family. For us, that’s to support reunification. In our case, we know our next court date is looming after Christmas, so reunification is ever-present in our minds. We want to set this family up for success when they are together again, so as we put items on the list, we’re thinking about whether the gift would be something our girls could easily take with them.
I’m generally a practical gift-giver, but I also want to put gifts on the list that are fun. Our girls love soap. I know that might be weird, but they love to get their own pump of foamy goodness when they wash their hands. So, we put it on their list. They are going to need soap, whether it’s in our home or not. The same could be said of chapstick and lotion. People, it’s dry here.
As much as I want to be in control of the situation and be able to predict the future, I can not. What I do know is that being warm on a cold night is always helpful. Having an extra blanket or a sleeping bag may provide a little extra comfort. And how will they travel with their items? Will everything get lost in the shuffle? Putting a rolling suitcase or duffle bag on the list could assist in safekeeping items if a move is ever in the future.
Make it personal.
Our girls do not have names that you can find at your standard souvenir shop. They didn’t come with monogrammed backpacks or towels. In fact, when our girls came to our house, they had little to call their own—never-mind, personalized items. Growing up, my husband received what feels like a “Little Golden Book” on every occasion. The giver–or his parents–were faithful to write his name inside the cover with the month and year he was given the book. Many of those books are the ones we now read with our girls. When we skip to the first page to start reading, they stop us and ask, whose book it is—knowing it’s my husband’s—and how old he was when he got it. They love that they get to read his books. And I love that we get to say, he got this when he was your exact age.
I want that same joy for our girls for books of their own. Making something personalized can be something as simple as that—writing a name in a book. Bonus—if you follow the “Gifts Rule: Want, Need, Wear, Read” tradition, a book with their name in it fits right in!
Another excellent book option is to create a photo book. Again, back to the first consideration, this is something they will treasure, whether they are with you forever or not. Our girls love to see pictures of themselves, and it has been our tradition since before we had the girls to create a yearly photo book through Shutterfly since we don’t often print out pictures throughout the year. I’m thinking about creating books just for them, filled with all the memories we’ve made together with them.
Remember your why.
Ok, so transparently, there are some things I pause to put on their wish lists even though I know that they would LOVE them, particularly things of more value. I wonder, will the item get lost or will they break it? Under the guise of being fiscally responsible, I don’t want to spend money on or have others spend money on things that I can’t guarantee will be safely played with—as if that’s a thing with children. I think about whether they will appreciate or grasp the value of what they are receiving.
Here’s the thing, though. I love gift-giving because I love being able to share my joy and thankfulness for the person I’m giving the gift to. My joy for giving the gift has never been dependent upon the receiver. I actually would much rather give a gift than receive it. I want to be a blessing. So, the same is true—or should be true—when I’m putting things on the list for our girls. I should not be guided by their level of thankfulness or whether an item will be broken, but rather I want to give in a way that’s overly gracious.
In doing so, I get to share the most precious gift—to consider how Christ first loved us with great abundance.
Holly grew up with a heart for adoption but didn’t know much about foster care. God used an internship with a local child welfare agency to make her aware. Coupling that experience with knowing the joy of the Gospel, Holly is passionate about connecting the local church to the foster care community. Holly and her husband, Scott, were married in December 2013 and are enjoying the crazy adventure of life together.
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