Let me ask you a question, do my kids look sad or unloved in any of these pictures? These were all taken at their birthday parties in which none of their friends brought them gifts. It’s something we’ve done since the beginning – no gifts from friends on birthdays. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, it’s not a big deal to us, but it seems to be a tough concept for their friends’ parents to accept. Every year, we get the parents who ask, “are you SURE we can’t bring a gift?” Yes, I am sure. Then, there are the ones that bring gifts anyway, making it awkward for everyone. Other parents, that actually heeded our request, feel awkward because they didn’t bring a gift, I feel awkward because I don’t know what to say, but also don’t want to be rude, and my kids feel confused because they knew they weren’t supposed to be getting gifts. I know these parents have the best intentions, and I greatly appreciate that, but I want them to know that just bringing your child to my kids’ parties is enough. The cake is enough, the celebration is enough, the way they feel important on their special day, is enough. It’s all enough.
We have a large family, they do get gifts, more gifts than any child needs. They want for nothing. We just decided early on, that instead of having the 10+ kids that come to their party bring gifts that will eventually end up in a forgotten heap in the basement, why not have those 10+ families bring something that can actually do good for those in need? Every year, my girls pick a charity to sponsor, and we ask families to bring items for those charities in lieu of gifts. One year, Lucy chose food for a local women’s shelter, Vivian, in typical Vivi fashion, chose underwear for foster children (she’s obsessed with poop, pee, and butts,) this year, Lucy chose books for the library. It’s just such a great opportunity for them to learn about giving back and helping others, that it’s better to give than to receive, and yadda, yadda, yadda. They get it, and feel good about it – you should have seen Vivian’s excitement when we dropped off toys at Riley Children’s Hospital, last year. I purposefully did not bring my camera, because it wasn’t about a picture opportunity, it was about doing something good just for the sake of doing good.
By no means am I doing everything right as a parent: I use the TV as a babysitter, I yell, I throw away school projects, I forget about movie nights at school, but this is one thing I do feel good about, and plan to continue. I am not judging other parents that do indulge their children with gifts for their birthday, I am sure they absolutely love it. I have no doubt they are teaching their children the same values I am trying to teach mine, just in a different way. This is our way. So, yes, when I say, “no gifts, please,” I absolutely, 110% mean it.
Raw Sugar Photography specializes in newborn, baby, maternity, child, family, couples and engagement photography in Indianapolis, Indiana and surrounding areas including but not limited to Fishers and Carmel.