The Present of Presence

Are you wondering what to give your grandchildren for Christmas? My husband and I are Nana and Papa to 24 – with 2 more on the way! We have big hearts but a shrinking piggy bank! About 20 grandchildren ago we decided our Christmas gifts had to be clever enough to delight without breaking the bank.

I collect little things all year round (from yard sales, second hand and dollar stores, or online: and have a stash of small but wonderful treasures. I select gifts that will provide fun, entertainment, and even some laughs.  By now, the grands know they will not be getting BIG extravagant presents from us. They have learned that we give BIG love through little tokens.

For Christmas, we give each child a little decorated bag containing several tiny surprises: Dover sticker story books, a wind-up monkey with cymbals, sticky hands with long strings, Chinese finger pulls, small foam shooters, etc. We add in a healthy drink (like Zevia) and a fancy Christmas candy (like a mini chocolate Snickers bar). We complete the gift bag with a book, a game, a puzzle in a tin, a ball that lights up, checkers, a stuffed animal, Legos for boys, or paper dolls for girls.  The bags contain all tiny little things, maybe 5 or 6 items in each bag.  If we can’t be there in person when they receive their gifts, we add a personal touch by calling our grandchildren to chat about what they received.

In addition to a personal bag of Christmas fun, each family receives a movie. The movies we select are full length and can compete with Disney for fun and quality, but also contain a Godly message.  We have found movies such as “Joseph the King of Dreams” by Dreamworks, “Prince of Egypt”, or any of the CCC saint stories are perfect for giving to our grandchildren.  Last year, they even received a giant bag of sweet and salty popcorn to enjoy with their movie!

For each new grandbaby, I purchase a tree ornament in a Christmas shape and complete it with their name and birth year.  I make one for the family and an identical one for me which I bring out each Christmas.  Our grandchildren (all different ages) love to line them up and say “That one’s ME!”

The best gifts are ones with a presence. Sometimes our grandchildren receive the gift of a day spent playing games with them. Other times they are invited to accompany us to a tailgate, a skate park, the zoo, or museums. One of their favorite gifts is “The Storyteller”.  My husband is an excellent storyteller and an evening with him is always a hit – especially if it comes with ice cream sundaes!  I like to invite my grandchildren for sleepovers.  Together we cook and eat fun food.  We then spend time completing a fun project like decorating gingerbread houses or working with Perler Beads. Our goal in all our interactions is to show extraordinary love and have extraordinary conversations.

We have decided that for us and our grandchildren, “The present of presence is far more important than the presence of presents”.

Piper Fountain is the grandmother of 24 and counting. She and her husband Jim live in Lansing, Michigan.

Copyright © 2017 Grandly: The Strategic Grandparents Club.

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