Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Giving And Receiving

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.

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Scott said...

We've wrapped empty boxes before but I like the idea of the kids choosing things to put in them. My kids love the idea of wrapping, taping, etc.

Play for Life said...

Our children are more interested in stuffing the boxes with things from kinder, wrapping them up and popping them in their lockers to take home ... I'm afraid i've had to play Stooge a couple times this week! ;(

Donna :) :)

Juliet Robertson said...

Aha! The joys of gift wrapping. I wonder if your children will move onto wrapping each other up...and getting others to unwrap each other. This was a theme on a nature play holiday camp this summer I visited! Only they wrapped each other up in parachutes.

Deborah said...

How fun and look at all the basic skill learning taking place! Not only a time to have fun with giving and receiving but they are developing valuable skills without even knowing it:)

Barbara Zaborowski said...

We've wrapped empty boxes for years. When the boxes have all gone home, we wrap our blocks (they DON'T go home.) Then we take wrapped blocks and practice Christmas morning, that is, we shake the wrapped block, make guesses as to what it might be, open it, and give a sincere and enthusiastic thank you for the block. A few kids look at us like we're crazy, but most of them really get into it.

rachelle | tinkerlab said...

What a beautiful post! With the 8th night of Hanukah now behind us, my 2 year old has become a connoisseur of gift receiving. And we celebrate Christmas too, which makes me wonder how she's interpreting the season. She's played "wrapping presents" with fabric and blue painters tape, and I imagine that introducing tissue paper, clear tape, and bows would be a very exciting provocation! Thanks for the inspiring rainy day activity.

rachelle | tinkerlab said...

oh, forgot to mention that I added you as a favorite link on tinkerlab.com. cheers!

jwg said...

Try curling ribbon. We used it once to wrap cookies the kids had baked for the mail carrier and other regulars and the kids were enthralled. There was a group who spent almost all of free play making curls. Some then went on to collage with them,others just loved the process.

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