When Ninja sticks his tongue out while affixing one last set of sequins to a handmade ornament made special for his great grandma I see the power of replacing purchasing power with kindness. Every year the kids and I make a special craft for our family members. It is usually as elaborate as we can get based on their age, and we spend a lot of time working on them over the entire month of December.
Like most of my favorite life moments, this tradition started because creativity is a required skill when medical bills steal all of your income. Sorry, that was an exaggeration — we only used 67% of our income on medical bills. Still, we were too poor to purchase presents for everyone, so we made them instead. The hours of work, though, and talking about the people we love as we worked diligently on gifts of meaning was awesome that first year and has become something I looked forward to doing every year.
This year the kids have their own ideas about what they want to make for everyone, which makes the process more exciting. They really own the process this year, taking their time and deciding who in their life they want to celebrate with gifts of love and gratitude. Their logic is perfect, too. Ninja wanted to give his Grandma J a green ornament with a green ribbon and a green hook because he loves green and it is his favorite color so she should have his favorite. At four it makes perfect sense that giving away your favorite color is a sign of love more than asking what their favorite color would have been.
Some people love our gifts; others see them as a cheap solution for a perpetually broke family. I like to picture a scale with a handmade ornament with uneven finger-paints and loads of glitter on one side, a Starbucks gift card on the other. The look of happiness and pride on Twinkle and Ninja’s faces as their present their gifts of love prove which side of the scale weighs more — Love is always the best gift, especially when coated in glitter and sequins.