All week my older two children have been asking when they can go Christmas shopping. And what they mean when they say that is: when can they go Christmas shopping for each other.
I am not sure when that tradition started exactly, but it was a few years ago now. My littlest Love was a baby more than likely, and we took the older two who were babes themselves to the dollar store to pick out silly little treasures for each other. Dollar store because, when you're a little kid with poor judgement, the cost of junk that was eventually trashed was pretty low stakes. Now we have moved onto drug store toys, since the drug stores are what's closest, with lots of great choices and a good knowledge of what each other enjoys. This year my older two, Wilde and Sweet, both insisted I drive them (separately) to Target, which is a good 20 minute drive and honestly, heck no! Not that zoo in this day and age of Corona. Wilde insisted that the Hatichmals Sweet wanted were at Target, and likewise, the big box store carried the Chelsea playset little Love wanted. You can thank that the good ol' Target toy catalog for that one.
I love that they were keeping each other in mind all week. Instead of writing their letters to Santa, they were thinking about others. Parenting is hard but when you see your kids expressing their love for others, you know you're doing something right. Parenting is that constant wrestle between wanting to give your kids the moon but knowing that even if you could, you shouldn't. Teaching them to care for themselves, care for their things, and care for others is no easy task, honestly. It is a lot more work to teach your kid how to make a sandwich, for instance, and harp on them to clean the mayo off the table and twist the bread bag so it doesn't dry out and to not leave the lunch meat out... every time... than it is to just make their lunch for them. And as a mother our natural inclination is to provide for those kids and just make the sandwich. It's easier! Less mess! No stolen lunch meat with a guilty looking face on the dog! But the lesson in them making the sandwich is twofold, one, the kid learns the process of making the sandwich and practices it over and over. And the mama learns to let their little bird fly.
Sibling gift giving is like that, a practice in thinking of others and loving your family. Learning to give strengthens their bond, creates memories, and gives them a sense of purpose. And it's fun too! The kids all wanted to wrap their gifts and put them under the tree immediately after we got home. Their eyes sparkled at the twinkly lights and the first gifts appearing under the tree.
They are already shaking the gifts and sharing secrets. Love is whispering in Wilde's ear here telling her what she picked out for Sweet. The secret-keeping is something I've cautioned them on lest someone spill the beans, but it certainly lends to that magical Christmas feeling we all knew as kids.