Wednesday, December 19, 2012

toys, Christmas time and the like...

I’m always so impressed with what the kids around us create by way of toys. A plastic shopright bag, some sticks and string makes a perfect kite. 

Some banana stalks and chitenge materials makes a sweet doll (complete with braids!). 

Bottle caps and Maheo drink boxes makes an impressive flatbed truck. 

Old wire, carved wood and a stick makes an awesome vehicle that can even be steered! 

Seriously, these kids are more creative than I remember being as a child.

I’ve been thinking a lot about our neighbor kids and their toys, especially as we approach the one holiday per year when parents all of a sudden feel compelled to buy their children boatloads of toy-ish things.

Jeremy and I have had this conversation more than once – what should we do for Bronwyn such that she understands the purpose of gifts at Christmas and so that she feels special and loved, but without fostering in her a sense of materialism and without communicating that the simple lifestyle of all of her village friends is somehow inadequate or inferior?

Our answer?


Gosh it feels good to admit that! We have two simple gifts prepared for her from us, and two from her Grandma Rawson. Part of us feels like, “goodness, that’s so little!” and part of us feels like “goodness, that’s so much!” Both statements are probably accurate on some level. Every time we’ve ever seen small children open gifts (in America), the parents always laugh at how they should have just given them the box the gift came in. Ok – so why didn’t they? I recently found out that Chama, our neighbor boy, burnt his foot badly enough to take him out of school – and he did it by jumping into our rubbish pit to retrieve a box that he wanted to use as a toy. Saddest. Thing. Ever. I heard his story and wanted to die.

And I’m supposed to follow that up by giving my daughter more STUFF?

Are you tracking with my dilemma? Is it possible that most parents’ gift giving philosophies are more about the emotions of the parents than the wants/needs/desires of the kids? Is it possible to find the perfect middle ground between (1) inappropriately disregarding meaning and (2) inappropriately embracing extravagance? I hope so! Have we found it? I HOPE SO!

I recently said to Jeremy, “I’m glad Bronwyn has the memory of a goldfish, because I’m not sure we’re doing this right. At least we can try it again next year…” This Christmas we want our precious girl to know that she is important to us and that we love her. But more importantly, we want her to know that Jesus loves her and sent his son – a perfect Gift – to die in her place. Moreover we want her to know that our purpose in this place, and in life, is to represent that Gift in word and in deed. Will letting Bronwyn unwrap some presents help her to one day understand this simple message? We certainly pray so.
For truly, ‘From the fullness of His grace, we have received one blessing after another.’ (John 1:16)

May this be what you remember, baby girl, at Christmas time and always. 

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