Stalked by the Stork...a diary of raising twelve kids

Having twelve children is an amazing blessing and one heck of a crazy ride. Join us through all the joys, smiles, tribulations and trials as we navigate this fabulous journey!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Secret...Or Not So Secret Santa Sibling Shopping

On Sunday afternoon, our family began a brand new tradition. We had our kids draw names for Christmas gift shopping. We wrote the names of each of our ten children on a scrap of paper, folded them up and placed them in a brown paper bag (like the type that holds a school lunch, or um, you know, maybe a beer). Each child drew the name of his or her sibling, except Jackson, who drew his own name and had to re-draw. Well, okay and Brandon, who cheated and withheld his own name from the drawing so that by default, Baby Mia would get his name, as he knew this meant a grown-up would be in charge of selecting his gift rather than taking his chances on the whim of a pre-schooler. Our kids have been asking for a couple years now if they could Christmas shop for each other, although only a couple of them actually have their own money. The prospect of footing the bill for EACH child to select a gift for EACH one of his or her other siblings was pretty dismal, considering this would have equaled NINETY extra presents in addition to the ones we are already buying from us and you know…whatever Santa brings. So, we figured out pretty quickly that drawing names was the only logistical way to do this.
The kids were super excited…except the one who muttered “not him” when drawing names and promptly dropped his slip of paper back into the bag and drew again…and of course, Brandon’s cheating of the system. As we headed down the snowy streets to Target, with Brandon in the backseat chanting “My name is Brandon and I cheated the secret Santa system!” over and over and over the kids chatted about what each of them would like and would like to buy for each other.
At Target, we set a dollar limit (of fifteen bucks for the oldest five and ten for the twins on down) and split up into two groups. I had the little kid group, which basically meant I got to heavily influence what they were getting the kids they’d drawn (oh come on…if not, Drew would be receiving a milk bone) and then later, I assisted Brice simply because he’d drawn Mia’s name and I wanted to ensure that he picked appropriately. Turns out, Brice was probably the smartest shopper in the bunch, he was very selective and looked at many….a great many things before choosing… at long last.
At the end of the experience, the kids were so excited to have shopped for a sibling. It was nice to see them so happy about what they are going to GIVE rather what they will RECEIVE. This activity was even fun for Mommy and Daddy as well and we felt good about it, like we’d helped the kids discover a lesson or a value that will serve them well throughout life…it’s lots more fun to give to others. Our kids all truly “got it” that day and I was proud of them. Additionally, we’ve helped our kids select items from the store to be sent to less fortunate children. We want our children to understand that while its great to enjoy Santa and exciting to open presents, that your heart feels even better when you GIVE to other people, and help them feel that same excitement and happiness. Our lesson seems to be paying off.


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