This year Jack (8) has discovered the joy of gift giving. Rather, he felt the joy for one evening as he flipped through a couple of cool catalogs (Think Geek and Uncommon Goods), marking off with post its what he thought would be the best gifts for everyone. I loved the present ideas he had for his sister, my sister, her new boyfriend. Even loved that he didn't think gifts for me or Jon were necessary. I was delighted watching his thoughtfulness for others blossom.
All kids come into their own so differently, it's a miracle to watch and can be frustrating as all hell. And Jack's had challenges that have keep pieces from falling into place when I thought they should have. Or maybe that's just me comparing him to his older sister, other people's kids, my own expectations. All places to get into trouble. Anyway, thoughtfulness isn't his strong suit. Empathy? It's in there, but in a very perfunctory way. Sort of like his day. Maybe it's a guy thing. Not being one, I am all soothing and hugs and kisses and listening. Again, back to the story at hand. This is the first time he's spent time and energy thinking about gifts for others, to the point of more thought than about his own. For Jack, that's remarkable. I think for most kids it would be. I love catalogs too, so we pored over the pages, marveling at creativity, laughing at ridiculousless, drooling over a Yoda backpack (actually, that was me).
Then. Reality. How to come up with the $180 for the lovely gifts he picked out. That's not a reality. Jack chose some games to sell on ebay and while that's viable in the long term, it's not a given. Who knows when, or if, they'll sell. I suggested less expensive options. He blew. He's was so wrapped up in his dream of perfect gifts, was knocked off his feet by the prices, and got stuck in this place of frustration.
I get it. That happens to me. I always wish I'd started planning earlier. My friend Heather has a gift pile going in August. I make endless fun of her (and the fact her Christmas cards are at the printer in the summer), but she's got the right idea. Hannukah's less than a week away and my frantic scramble's just beginning. I have a kinda/sorta list in my head, but it's vague and fuzzy. Maybe this is why I haven't been able to sleep at night—my subconscious is in full pre-holiday freak out mode. I worry about finding the right things, getting enough stuff, making people happy, not spending too much money . . . I tend to wrap the night before, not enough tape, losing track of scissors while trying to coordinating paper colors.
In the end, it should be about being with family. Celebrating that we're together. Appreciating all we have. But that's hard to put in a box and wrap with a bow. So instead, we spend frantic energy and time finding ways to show those feelings that are sometimes hard to say.
And now, I'm off to catalog shop with Jack. He's got some love to share.