I had grown to dread the Christmas season until about 15 years ago when my extended family decided to drop the shopping crowds, strictly limit our budgets to $5 per person, and strongly encourage handmade gifts. What a boon! Now, instead of spending these weeks trying to find parking and fighting mall crowds, we're in our kitchens, sewing rooms, and garages being creative. It now feels so much more like a season of joy, which lies in the giving and receiving, way more than what's actually inside the boxes.
Our 3-5's class proved that point yesterday by wrapping and unwrapping dozens of presents. We'd provided a huge basket of bows (most of them recycled from last year), sheets of tissue paper (also reused), sturdy boxes (donated several years ago by co-op parent and photographer Janet Klinger), ribbon, tape, and scissors. Go!
You'll notice we didn't provide anything to put in those boxes. That was left up to the kids, who creatively filled them with blocks, kitchen implements, costume parts, jingle bells, toy food, and even wads of tissue paper. Many of them approached the task by declaring they needed help, but I think that was just out of habit. Normally, there are certain "standards" when it comes to a well-wrapped gift, but in preschool it truly is the thought that counts. A few of them did need help operating the tape dispensers, but otherwise they figured it out on their own.
I don't have many photos of those beautifully wrapped gifts because as soon as they were finished, they were given away, joyfully unwrapped, then wrapped again, each box being the object of anticipation on the part of both giver and receiver over and over again.
What I love most about my family's gift giving tradition is that we've all stopped worrying about what goes into the boxes. That's what has taken the stress out of the whole thing. It's the boxes themselves, the wrapping and unwrapping, the giving and receiving. That's really the whole point. The proof is right here in preschool.