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Katy England Katy England
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Gifts we give, gifts we receive

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Stuff is everywhere. I have so much stuff that if I'm not constantly getting rid of some of it, we run the real risk of being buried. With the onset of Christmas, there will be more stuff it is inevitable. After all, they keep growing.

And I will be the first to admit, I am part of the problem. If left to his own devices, my husband would probably trash a good three-quarters of their toys and he's right, they wouldn't even notice. But I've never really grown up past the phase of loving blocks, and I have this sick desire to build a wooden metropolis on the coffee table. So, despite the fact that I've bruised the bottom of my feet repeatedly, stepping on various shapes of wooden pain, I don't want to get rid of any. That is sick.

But I also don't really want more things. As in, more toys. Except when I do. Because there is something about giving them something that they love that we, as parents, are drawn to. We have to put up with a lot of things unreasonable, crazy, temperamental, gross things. So having a bit of joy is nice but it's fleeting, especially if I've just picked up the house and have an intimate knowledge of just how many toys they happen to have.

But I still want to get them a Thomas the Tank Engine set. Sick, man.

It helps that we don't have normal television bombarding them with ads. Don't get me wrong there is TV. Just not ad-driven television. The kiddos know who Santa is and have a vague notion of what he does, but the tradition hasn't reached a fevered pitch just yet. I think that might be coming to a close soon. But I can dream.

My sister-in-law has started doing something I admire greatly: giving the gift of experiences. Instead of stuff, they go places and do things. Disney World, nights out at the Theatre, hitting New York City making epic memories.

Since mobility for me and my three wise-children is limited due to logistics and car sickness, I have a desire to create smaller-scale experiences. These days when people ask me what to get the kids, mostly it's art supplies. Sure, it means a never-ending cleanup, but it's new experiences all the time.

Exploring can be fun, even on a small scale. We live in a rural area, and being able to take walks even short ones in the snowy woods has been lots of fun. This year's list of things to do also include fun-filled adventures to watch planes take off at the airport, and spying on construction sites. Small-scale, good times.

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