I love gifting. To most anyone, but especially to my grandkids.
You won’t, however, usually find me giving the latest toy or “must have” item.
I want my four grandboys and one grandgirl to enjoy and appreciate the gifts they receive for me. But I also want them to have real value for their lives. So my presents to them usually fall in one of these six categories:
My first gifts—new babies, showers, every birthday and every Christmas—are always books. I offer variety—old favorites, classics, new releases. Board books, picture books, beginning readers. Topics change: trucks, tractors and Star Wars always win with the boys. Grandgirl Madison has moved from princesses to horses.
I love reading to my grandkids, then letting them read to me, and finally just watching them reading on their own. Books provide amazing adventures, take them to exotic places, introduce them to real heroes.
This is a broad category. The boys love building and constructing; recent gifts have included Star Wars Legos and Lincoln Logs. Jewelry kits and cooking always please Maddy. Music of every kind is a hit. And I give art supplies galore—appropriate for every age, using every medium. The boys especially love painting dragons and cars and dinosaurs they can then play with.
Hand puppets play a key role in our frequent storytelling—lions and kangaroos and mice and koalas—and the all-time favorite is a realistic alligator. Costumes allow them to be superheroes or knights or ninjas or cowboys, or the latest pre-teen idol. A sand and water table has given the grandboys hours of wet fun on hot days.
One of my best gifts was the backyard playset—swings, a glider, a slide, a climbing wall, a fort–in my backyard. They have spent hours playing together there. Our own bounce house has been a favorite, plus a slip-n-slide, bikes, a spring horse, even a pogo stick.
And sports equipment. So many balls of every kind, shoes and practice shorts for soccer, soccer goals, a punching bag. They burn up some of that incessant energy, strengthen their bodies and grow their skills.
I love to take my grandkids on fun outings. Books stores and pet stores are always fun, the zoo is amazing—except I can’t keep up with them—and any place with a train or a carousel delights. Science museum, children’s museum, even Chuck E. Cheese—we do it all together. And the beach—can’t forget the beach.
I used to teach horseback riding, and a friend has been willing to give some lessons to all of my grands. This is Maddy’s favorite—at 10 she is getting pretty good.
Living in Orlando provides so many attractions. Gatorland was a big hit—we have pictures of them on an alligator and draped in a python for a real memory. One year’s Christmas gift was an annual pass to Sea World for all the local family members. This past year the Indiana group got passes to a climbing gym, which the boys love.
Any of these gifts can fall under the Time topic—if I do the different activities with them. But sometimes Time means a trip to Chick-fil-A or watching a movie together, or playing games on my I-pad. I love to just be with them.
I also give them Time they don’t really know about: I pray for them all the time.
This last category is one I did with my children, and am now beginning to do with the grandkids: Giving. I love to help them choose toys or clothes to give to someone else who can use them. I also give to Angel Tree in their names—providing gifts for children whose parents are in prison. Maddy and I together support a Haitian girl through Compassion—she loves writing to her. I hope to expand this category more as the kids are old enough to understand their own giving.
Do I ever give a gift just because they want something? Sure. And I buy little trinkets and snacks when I go to visit them. But most of the time I seek to give life-expanding presents that keep on giving.
And so far they all still love their Jeedoo (which is what they call me).
What about you? What are your favorite gifts for the children in your life?
C2012 Judy Douglass
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