How We Go About Gift-Giving

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It’s not about the stuff, it’s about the experiences.

I can recall one toy I received at Christmas. It was a My Child doll and I remember it for the very reason that my mom sat on the floor close, our faces lit by the cozy fire in the fireplace, and I watched breathless, as she sketched the face of my new doll.

It was as if watching magic. Another facet to my mom. The one who taught and mothered and hosted and baked brownies. She could draw too? Perhaps I remember that gift, not for it’s material matter, but for the memory it carried; the story behind the face I snuggled every night, and the squishy body I changed in and out of dresses and cotton shirts.

Naturally when we had one son, then another, we anticipated Christmas, but a new terror took over. Suddenly, I was repulsed by commercials, the consumerism on steroids, the more more more of stuff and less less less of Him, who we celebrate this season. My overly passionate mind was tempted to jump off the extreme side of the anti-Christmas scale and fly off to Neverland where our family could fight pirates and swim with mermaids.

There is nothing wrong with gift-giving, it’s that my hubby and I so desperately desire for our boys to love the meaning behind Christmas more than what awaits under tree branches. It’s a balance friends. One we are navigating, and seem to have found a healthy joy of giving and receiving, celebrating and list-making.

Gift-giving at the Pogue Cottage is simple and intentional.
Gifts are given surrounding the magic of imagination, creativity, and stories. Something that can be shared with others.
Gift-giving surrounds all senses, with the hope that shared experiences will transform into unwrapped memories long after lights are taken down and stockings packed in the garage.

I invite you to start this Gift-Giving Tradition as the bustle has already begun, and I may have had a heart attack in the Target parking lot this afternoon.

Pogue’s Gift-Giving Tradition:

Something Worn, Something Read
Something Sung, Something Experienced
Something Played, or Something Made

This year Ty had a list a mile long and Tanner asked us to surprise him.

In the past, here are some gifts we’ve given:


Something Worn: Cowboy boots, sweaters, pajamas, converse sneakers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle undies (for the boys, not me. Geesh) Whether it’s an opportunity to buy for genuine clothing needs, or the dress-up bin, here’s your chance. Fostering their imaginations is one of the best gifts we can give them. Their cowboy boots get more use than most of their clothes. And if I had a young daughter, this would totally include a tiara and sassy heels.


Something Read: Every year the boys get a new book, with a hand-written note on the inside page, marked with the year. We do this tradition when we travel too. It began with Leonardo the Terrible Monster from Portland’s Powell’s Bookstore. Bekah, do you need any excuse to walk into a bookstore? Yes, don’t judge. It’s fun to pull out holiday reads and watch our book collection and their love for this tradition grow.


Something Sung: Music, music, and music. Soundtracks, musicals, books on tape, or a personal recording of their father singing in the shower. For some reason, they haven’t chosen the latter. Because we live for dance parties in the car, the kitchen, or while enjoying dinner, music is a must.


Something Experienced: To go along with our book tradition, we’ve added another sensory experience, with occasional theater tickets (said in a british accent) If you must know, I will spend hard-earned money on musicals and theater any day. What? You want to buy me a new car? Hmmm. Wait! Tickets to Wicked? Jumping up and down thrilled! It’s only fair to pass it on to our innocent children. First it was reading James and the Giant Peach with the boys. Then the play. Then Beauty and the Beast. Last month, after reading Charlotte’s Web, we took them to the South Coast Repertory. It may be the cutest thing when we tuck them in for the night and overhear brothers say from top bunk to bottom, Goodnight Wilbur. Goodnight Charlotte. Sniffle. Experiences can include movies, sporting events, the circus, a performance. Give experiences that your children are drawn to. We often remember what we do with those we love more than we remember things.


Something Played. A board game, puzzle, sports equipment, Legos. Something that sparks their creativity and is enjoyed for longer than the holiday season. Perhaps your daughter would love to take a ballet class or your son guitar lessons. Dollar Trees have awesome puzzles that make great stocking stuffers, and some of our favorite nights end with a family board game. It keeps us off TV and phones and focuses our attention on one another. Operation, anyone?

Something Made: This one has been a blast. Last year Bryan and I upcycled galvanized rain gutters into small shelves at the base of their beds. The boys love “their space” where they put the most random (and I mean random) stickers, notes, Happy Meal toys, and trinkets. I’ve peeked inside to see their precious hearts in saving handwritten notes from us or church art projects. We’ve also framed piano sheet music and written quotes and verses on the glass. Think of how to use what you already have. It’s amazing how home-made gifts show the love of time.

We’ve shared this Gift-Giving Tradition with friends, and it’s fun to see how they’ve adopted the ideas for their family.

Something Worn, Something Read
Something Sung, Something Experienced
Something Played, or Something Made

What fun, gift-giving traditions do you have? Let’s hear it! And if you have any theater tickets you are dying to get rid of, I pay in brownies. Wink!

Hugs, and peaceful thoughts as you navigate your own Target parking lots in the weeks ahead.


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