The other day as I was scrolling through Instagram I stopped on a photo of a "perfect Valentine's Day gift". No, not one for grown ups (like this one HERE hint hint), one for kids. As in, from me to them. For Valentine's Day. And it made me think, when did we start giving kids gifts for ALL of the "holidays"?! It's gotta stop.
When I was a kid, for Valentine's Day we exchanged Valentines with our classmates. And that was it. They were all either store bought of the plain tiny rectangle card variety or they were handmade, of the handmade by a child with construction paper and crayon variety. They usually did not include candy, or a craft project on the part of the parent, and I for sure did NOT get a Valentine's Day gift from my parents. We did not get heart shaped breakfast foods or pink milk in a mini glass milk bottle with a red and white striped paper straw and we certainly did not have Valentine's mailbox kits with unicorns and robots like the ones at Target that I buy because my kids apparently "need them" for their Valentine's Day parties at school. We had a paper lunch bag that we drew on with crayons or markers and we stuffed our Valentines into that. Maybe there were doilies we could glue onto it if we were feeling fancy. Maybe we got a box of those candy hearts that don't actually taste that great but are cute nonetheless, if we were lucky. And you know what? I loved it!
A quick google search of "Valentine's Gift Ideas for Kids" will come up with a list that claims will "eliminate the age-old question, 'What can I buy them that they don’t already have?'" Um, how about NOTHING?! And I'm sorry, the age old question? Since when did this even become a thing?! And if you are asking yourself what to get your kid that has everything, can I refer you to my above response?
Valentine's Day is a romantic sorta not really but kinda "holiday". Go out to dinner with your spouse, maybe get each other a gift to show your love, but let's not get into buying gifts for the kids on Valentine's Day too, please. They have their class Valentines, that is enough, I assure you.
Now, don't get me wrong, I actually really like some of this stuff. I am a HUGE fan of themed pancakes, huge fan. I like making cute snacks and little crafts, and I have been known to put actual mom time into making class Valentines (here, cute, right?!). BUT, I draw the line at buying gifts. Gifts are for Christmas and birthdays in this house, and that's it. That is IT. I may be guilty of once in a while buying some cute headband or socks for these holidays because I am weak in the face of the Dollar Spot but I will refuse to turn this into another gift giving holiday. I'm putting my foot down.
As a mom in 2017, I find myself wanting to make my kids smile and getting excited when I can make their little worlds a tiny bit "magical" and feeling ridiculous when I'm squirting green dye into my toilet at 10pm for leprechaun pee (yes I have done this) and decorating Cheerios as tiny donuts so our Elf on the Shelf can have a snack. When is it too much? Where is the line between spoiling them and magical? And let me just say, this year I was totally going to keep our elf in her/his hiding spot FOREVER until someone got upset because all of her friends on the school bus had their elves appear already EXCEPT FOR OURS (major drama ensued and I caved). So I basically spent a portion of our holiday season hiding a stuffed toy elf around my house because of third grade peer pressure.
I guess I just want to keep a healthy balance between real childhood magic and manufactured magic. Between the kind of magic you can buy at AC Moore and the kind that money can't buy. And I am totally done with the kind of childhood magic that involves pressure at all, because forced magic just kinda sucks.
The other thing is, kids can also stop and notice the every day magic that happens all around them. Like how their clothes "magically" get cleaned and put away, and how food just "magically" appears on the table for them! And that wifi that you use, dear kiddos? That wifi is a little bit of parent magic that means I pay for it, you use it, and you gotta start being thankful for it. Magic. Magic that I will pass onto you and teach you how to create it all by yourself. POOF!
And you know what, beloved children of mine? If your childhood isn't totally "magical", you'll live. You'll still have some great childhood memories even if your Elf on the St. Patrick's Day shelf doesn't paint rainbows in shaving cream on the mirror for you with a bag of chocolate coins at the end of it. I promise.