"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Friday, December 9, 2016

Am I My Brother's Shopper?

I took the boys shopping today. This is our Dollar Store Christmas outing, to do their one, big, annual shopping extravaganza of giving. They have pocket money that they are allowed to buy things for themselves with throughout the year...but that money is all virtual and deducted and credited to them via little tallies on their Daddy's ever-spooling spreadsheet. Its pretty much all spent on junk food impulse purchases, Super balls and Pokemon cards. This money, is handed to them in cash...they each get five dollars....that's a dollar for each brother and then three other dollars to divide use for other gifts as they see fit (one for Mommy, one for Daddy and one for the family, two gifts for the kids to share and one for the parents, three other gifts the whole family can enjoy together....etc.) I put very few limits on what they buy and we can take as much time as they like in the shopping process. I did tell them no Playdough this year (light gray rental carpets in 80% of the house) and I also put the nix on the idea of giant knife with blood painted on the blade. I did however, allow the purchase of more Nerf action than I have the nerves to really enjoy.

The boys hem and haw, sometimes confer with each other in harried whispers, sometimes ask my advice and sometimes refuse any counsel. After they have selected what they want, I go over their plan with them privately while the siblings look the other way and talk amongst themselves. I ask them to tell me specifically who each gift is for, so that they can be sure they have it all figured out and that there are no double buys or accidental misses. I add no feedback or comments but simply make sure that they are sure they have everything they want to buy. There is no buying for yourself, although you are allowed to tell Mommy in furtive whispers if something catches your eye and is your burning wish for Christmas....it may get passed on to other shoppers who are stuck for ideas.

Once all decisions are made, we take the purchases up front and cash is handed out to each kid (I cover all tax and unexpectedly higher prices) and they wait in line with their things. They are coached through putting their goods on the conveyer, adding the divider between them and the next customer and waiting at the register for the cashier to ask for their money. I have them take the change and ask the cashier to count it back to them for good measure. Then they put their receipt into their own bag, thank the cashier and move over to the door to wait while their siblings complete their purchases.

Its mega fun for the boys to make such big adult purchases and to feel that they have such sacred power to surprise others and bring a gift home of their own choosing. Some years there have been unexpected squeals of joy over the selections once they are unwrapped....I am sometimes astonished at the way a sibling knows just the right thing to delight their brother. Its also such jolly fun to see a kid restrain himself with sighs and wishes from getting a toy he really wants and instead buy one for his brother because he knows his brother would also love it....and then on Christmas morning watch them realize that they bought each other the same longed for item. What a wonderful lesson in giving and the joy that there is in restraint and the deliciousness that there is in allowing space in our lives for other people to be good to us, not only to meet our own needs privately.

So, now we have to put the tree skirt down! Its all wrinkly and I meant to iron it up over the weekend and get it down but I forgot. Now its time to get serious....there are things that have been earnestly wrapped but little boys and labeled with little phonetically spelled tags in determined, wobbly writing. These are worthy presents, every year I'm glad I do this....even when the customers in line behind us are sighing dramatically and looking at their watches, and Pom has crawled under a store display for chocolate santas and pouted that he was going to live there forever. Even then. This, is a great tradition.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful...love how create a space and time for the boys to learn the gift of giving.