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The Gifts Your Kids Really Need This Christmas

Karen Veenstra
Dec 9, 2020

I recently read a comment on Instagram from a man who was admiring his parents for the ways they made his childhood special. He and his brother loved baseball. They played it constantly and watched it endlessly. He said all they ever wanted was to go to a Major League Baseball game, but his parents simply couldn’t afford it. So, one day, when they arrived home from school, their Dad was waiting at the door. He handed them two hand made tickets, a couple dollars each, and welcomed them to the ballpark. He took their tickets and walked them to their seats, two chairs they set up in front of the TV. His mom cooked up hotdogs and his dad walked around the room like a vendor yelling out “Get your hot dogs here! Fresh, cold soda!” They’d wave their money, give him the two dollars, and order themselves a hotdog and soda... His parents brought the ballpark to them.

He said he knew they didn’t have much money, but he never truly knew how poor they were because it never stopped his parents from providing happy, loving and long-lasting memories.

It was the best ballgame we’ve ever been to.

This was a random person commenting on a random meme I just so happened to stop to read in my scrolling. Commenters of memes don’t exactly stop me in my tracks, but this one did. With Christmas approaching and as a mom to two little boys, I couldn’t help but envision my sons someday telling stories of their memories with Mom and Dad rather than their toys from Mom & Dad. I started to think back to my childhood memories, too, and realized I could barely remember one toy or gadget I ripped open on Christmas mornings, but I do remember the little things that made it so special. I remember the love, time, and the presence of my parents.

With 2020 changing the way a lot of us do Christmas, whether because we’ve lost jobs, lost family members, or have simply lost out on all the traditions that make for a memorable season, we as parents are needing to reimagine Christmas for our kids in a way we may never have thought of before. If you’re anything like me, I tend to go overboard. I’d love to give my children everything they’ve ever wanted, especially in a year they’ve lost out on so much. I’d love to stuff our family room so full of presents they can barely walk in the room on Christmas morning.

But just because I’d love to do such things doesn’t mean such things are the right things, nor the best things, in how to love my children during such a time as this. So what can we do? How can we approach gift giving in a season where our normally high expectations are at an all time low? What gifts do our kids really need this Christmas?


#1) Honest, open, and authentic conversation: Believe it or not, kids crave authenticity and honesty. The world is at their fingertips and they are a lot more embedded in what’s going on around them than we ever were as kids. They know what’s happening out there right now and if they think you’re hiding something, they’ll call it out. So talk about it! If Christmas needs to look drastically different for your family this year in how you give gifts, tell them. Our children are a lot more resilient than we give them credit for, and 2020 has proved that. Share your disappointment in not being able to give the materialistic items they want, and leave room for them to share their disappointment, too. Even if you think it’s shallow to grieve not getting the new iPhone 12, let them grieve anyway. Let’s not lecture our kids this year on why they don’t need all these things they’re asking for. They are learning many hard lessons this year already. It’s okay to acknowledge our grief and disappointments and you being honest about this with your kids will go a long way. 

#2) Quality over quantity: I know this is not necessarily new advice when it comes to gift giving, but I feel it bears repeating over and over again during a 2020 Christmas. Like me, you may feel the need to overcompensate on all that your kids lost out on this year by putting so many gifts under that tree it’ll even make Santa look frugal. However, I know this wouldn’t be the wise choice. I don’t want them to get lost in the mess of wrapping paper because I went on an Amazon Prime shopping spree. Anyone can click “add to cart” without a thought behind it, but what makes a gift special is the thought behind it. When we truly take the time to listen, to understand the personalities of our children, to sit and talk through with them what they really want, maybe, just maybe, we can surprise them. Above all, our kids want to feel seen and loved. Ask yourself what that looks like for each of your children, and then roll with it!

#3) Presence over presents: Remember the Instagram commenter? One of his favorite memories as a child had nothing to do with what he got from his parents, but what he experienced with them. Not having the money to send them to a ball game didn’t stop them from trying to give their kids an experience they wouldn’t forget. When we take the time to pay attention to detail, pay attention to their hearts, and pay attention to them, that’s the best gift they can ever receive. Your time matters more than your wallet. I can’t promise you that in the moment they won’t mope or be disappointed when you give mushy love to a middle schooler rather than a PlayStation 5, but I do promise you that in a later moment, whether it’s tomorrow, a year from now, or twenty years from now when they’re commentating on a futuristic Instagram, they’ll speak of the best Christmas they ever had the same way our commenter friend spoke of the best baseball game he’s ever been to. 

Isn’t that all we want as parents? I don’t want my kids to remember all the things I gave them. I want them to remember all the ways I knew them, saw them, and loved them. And believe it or not, if there was ever a year that’s been the perfect example of how to do just that, it’s the year 2020. Who knew?


Parents… want more resources for you and your family all year long? See all Liquid Family has to offer at LiquidChurch.com/Kids.

For more personal reflections from our Reimagine Christmas blog series, check out these articles: