We were with Isabella's cousins--the wonderful, the incredible, the beautiful and handsome Ellie and Gordie--and the cousins would, of course, be getting presents. We hadn't planned on too much, where gifts were concerned, thanks to our self-indoctrination during the "sustainable consumption" phase of the project.
Anyway, we worried that the daughter of the enviro-freaks--i.e. our nearly 3-year-old Isabella--would suffer for our principles while our adored Gordie and Ellie got to open gifts. We agonized. We worried. We decided to take a risk--kind of.
With Auntie Maureen's help, we wrapped up--in reused paper and ribbons--a bunch of Gordie and Ellie's old toddlers toys. We had a theory that Isabella actually didn't care whether she had any toys or not. We've noticed that a new gift never holds her attention for more than five minutes. That we might possibly be wrong about this on Christmas day was the risk.
The flip came up heads.
When everyone else was opening presents, Isabella, of course, wanted to join in. But not only was she pretty much uninterested in what the gifts were, she didn't care if they were for her or not. It would have worked out if none of the gifts were marked for her, as long as she was allowed to open them.
Now that we're home, the toys we packed for Isabella are back where they came from in Gordie and Ellie's closets. Isabella had the time of her life. And do I need to tell you how many times she has asked for the presents she didn't bring home? Zero.
The gift Isabella got--the one she still talks about, the one that made her love Christmas--was being with an extended family of kids and dogs and running around and singing and getting thrown in the air and swimming with her grandfather and dancing while Uncle Joe played the piano.
We've fooled ourselves into thinking its stuff we want, but it's not. It's each other.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.