“Hey, Mom. Hey mom. Do you remember the eggs?”
The questions that come out of my four-year-old’s mouth often baffle me. They usually come without much detail or description, just a little blip of memory that he’s reminiscing about in his little mind.
“The eggs?” I prod for more information.
“Yeah, the eggs.”
I don’t get any more detail, so I search the context. We’re in the car. My husband is driving, and the three boys are in the backseat. We’re going to the zoo. And that’s when I realize what he’s talking about.
Eight months ago, over Easter weekend we took a family trip to the Omaha Zoo. On easter Sunday, upon waking up in a hotel, the boys walked out of our room to discover Easter eggs filled with goodies waiting for them in the hotel hallways and lobby. After gathering up their eggs and eating breakfast, we spent the day at the zoo (yes…on Easter. Don’t judge.) And this is why our trip today to the zoo reminded my boy of eggs.
Lately many of his conversations with me have begun with, “Hey Mom, remember when….”
Our two-year-old has caught on as well. The other morning as I was driving with him, out of nowhere he said, “Hey Mom, Daddy took us to get pumpkins, and we painted them.” He was recalling something my husband had done with them months ago.
Every time they do this, they are reminding me that Together is what they remember.
Every time they bring up something that happened a few days ago, a few weeks ago, months ago, or even two years ago, there is one theme—what is engraved into their memories is time we spent together.
All of this recalling of memories has challenged me to rethink gift giving this Christmas.
A while back I wrote about the 171 weeks of our children’s lives that we are throwing away. From birth to 18, we have 936 weeks with our child. Today’s average child is spending 171 (waking!) weeks of that time in front of some digital device or screen.
Now I am all for family movie nights. And if you walk into our house during that perilous before-Daddy-gets-home hour each day, you’ll more likely than not find my children sitting in front of a show so I can clean up the wake of chaos from our day, and get dinner on the table.
But what if this year, for Christmas, we toned down on the things that tend to take us apart, and instead give gifts that encourage “Remember When” moments?
What if for Christmas, we began giving our children the gift of an undistracted childhood? What if we began to give them back those 171 weeks that many kids are losing? What if we fought for our families, simply by creating a Together culture in our homes?
I’m not intending to guilt anyone over their screen time habits. I’ll be the first to admit that this is a struggle in my own home. I have just been noticing, like many of us have I am sure, that screen time is quickly rising to be one of the biggest threats against families today. And I am ready to fight back.
I thought of this again this morning while walking through Target. Two women were standing together in the toy aisle. One seemed to be giving the other a suggestion on a board game. The other woman thanked her, and I noticed that her cart already had several games in it. “We’re going to have a lot more family game nights this year.” She explained to the other women. I smiled as I passed by. Things are shifting. And it begins in our own homes. At our tables. On our floors. In our backyards.
My prayer is that the generation of kids we are raising would grow up on Together time. And that could begin with what we choose to place under the Christmas tree this year.
So maybe this year, rethink that new gadget, movie, or device, and consider giving your children a Together Gift, such as these:
- A family zoo pass
- Play doh (not a fancy set, just the doh. Get your imaginations going together!)
- Board games
- Books you can read with them
- Books you can read to them as a family (Think Narnia or the Hobbit)
- Craft projects (that they’ll need help with)
- A knitting or crochet set (that you can teach them how to use, or learn how to use together)
- Tickets to the Ballet
- Tickets to a live theatre show
- Legos, Lincoln logs, Kinex, or other building activities you can construct together
- Tickets for a real train ride
- Family cooking or art classes
- Tickets to a childrens’ or science museum
- A fishing trip
- A model you can construct together
- Adult coloring books (does anyone else blush when they hear that?) That you can work on together. (Or one of these super cool coloring posters!)
- A scavenger hunt game (the gift can be the first clue)
- A “Date with mom” or “Date with Dad” card
- Hiking shoes for the whole family
- A tent or other camping gear
One of my son’s favorite gifts that we have gotten him is a pair of running shoes. I can only imagine that he loves them so much because of the miles upon miles he has hiked, walked, and run next to us while wearing them.
Your Together Gifts don’t have to be elaborate or expensive (or they can be, like the year we used our son’s first birthday as an excuse for a family trip to Colorado 😉 )
They can be simple, inexpensive, and creative—just make sure that they are something that will bring your family together. In a consumer-driven world that is producing more and more products that encourage time spent alone and secluded, absorbed in one’s own world, we hold the power to change things.
It’s up to us, as parents, to preserve the 936 weeks we have with our children, because we will never get that time back. So start today, and begin creatively by being intentional about what you place under the Christmas tree this year.
Make sure the gifts you give your child this season give them a reason to say, “Hey Mom, remember when…”