I have four children now. Four children at Christmas. Does that sound terrifying? A little, yes. Having rules and boundaries help though. I learned very quickly that it is ok to say no, make sure you say no, and the anger and tears are over in about five minutes. That makes all the holidays and birthdays easier from the start. These guidelines also make parenting easier most of the time.
Christmas with a newborn though… How do you handle that? What do you get a newborn? Will he like his gifts? Well, I can say that he loved his gifts. If sleeping and nursing all day is a sign that he loves gifts and enjoys the Christmas season.
We did not get my youngest anything for Christmas. His name was on the joint gift that was for all the kids (a mini piano to practice on) and that was it. He also received a few pencils in his stocking that quickly just got mixed in with all the other stuff from stockings. We really only put a few things in his stocking just so the other three kids wouldn’t get upset and think Santa or Mrs.Claus forgot about him. He received many gifts from family members and that was incredibly kind, he is so blessed just like my other children. He received many books and stuffed animals and clothes, it was perfect, really.
I opened up almost all of the gifts my youngest was given and some of my one year old’s gifts. I had fun opening extra presents! The reason we did not buy our youngest anything was because he simply did not need anything from his parents. One of us would have to wrap them and then open them, and he really wouldn’t know. The gifts he received from our caring family members was everything he needed. Presents are material in the end after all, different from stories, speaking, or inspiration (he did go to mass with us), and I really do not believe he was affected at all by not having a gift from us under the tree. He did have gifts under the tree from his grandparents.
With my oldest, she received tons of gifts, too many really. I spent so much time and money wrapping them and putting them under the tree. She was just over a month old when she had her first Christmas and my son I just had was only 2.5 weeks old. I bought her movies, toys, a coloring set (seriously, a coloring set at a one-month-old), stuffed animals, clothes, and more. Looking back it was so silly and I do not think I have anything left from all that! I wrapped all these and unwrapped most of them! So crazy! I did this because she was my first baby, my first baby at Christmas. Looking back though it seems silly now. She has no memory of all the stuff she received (just that-stuff) and I do not really remember any of the things I bought. Looking back in seems just impractical.
Fast forward to my next two boys, they were a bit older at Christmas time. 6/7 months. Hardly old enough to do anything but cute and chubby enough you want to include them. My third son I filled a bag of teething toys and handed them to him. He was occupied for ages. My second child, I remember a lot of joint gifts and age-appropriate things that we no longer have, but a lot of joint gifts between him and his older sister. After our third child, I realized that gifts so young were silly and it brought a better opportunity to teach the older ones about what all this really means.
I am not sure if it is the number of children we have or the years we have been parents. Joint gifts are the best and most practical. The amount of stuff just gets smaller and smaller and fewer toys. Toys just seem so silly. My three kids are all playing and being so loud right now, not a toy among them. The younger they are the less you really buy. This year each child received three gifts, one joint gift, and the boys had one joint gift. I am already thinking about how to downsize that. With all the family we are so lucky to have in our lives my kids never go without. With all the love and smiles we have in this small house we don’t even notice when we do go without, I don’t think we ever go without.
As my kids get older I want to buy less and do less that costs money, and spend more time doing things together like cooking, family movie nights, and taking long walks. Learn more about each other. Are you more attached to the picture of a million gifts under the tree or are you more attached to Christmas dinner? That one time a year, guaranteed, that everyone is together, happy and enjoying the day.
So, no, I did not get my baby anything for Christmas. I don’t think he would have the time anyway, he was very busy. As I was opening his gifts he was being passed around from grandparent to grandparent and from aunt to cousin. That was the best gift, seeing my whole family fall in love with the baby I just brought into the world. That is the best gift anyone could give.
Ashley Elizabeth Mitchell; January 9th, 2017
updated January 25th, 2020