Despite the fact that my boys tell me that they really like their toys, I actually notice that they seem more content playing with sticks, Tinker Toys (okay, these are real toys), flashlights, pencils and other things found around the house. Just yesterday I observed Sammy pushing around a tape measure as if it were a car or truck. It held his interest a lot longer than if the tape measure had been a toy car. Despite the fact that Luke owns three different plastic light sabers (two bought new with his allowance and one found at a garage sale), he actually seems more content playing with a stick found in the front yard than playing with the actual light sabers. I don't think he would admit this, but I've noticed that stick around more than the light sabers. I did warn him to be very careful how he spent his allowance. Did he really need two different new light sabers just because they were different colors?? Maybe I just don't understand that each Jedi has his own color light saber. That's actually true. I have no idea what color Luke Skywalker's lightsaber is. Would he actually play with them as much as he thought he would? These are the questions I ask him before he purchases anything. As much as I knew that he would ultimately find some disappointment with his purchase, I knew I had to let him make the decision himself. I asked myself why he would want to spend his money this way when he never seemed disappointed by his own light sabers/swords fashioned from Tinker Toys.
As I have mentioned before, I am very much a less-is-more kind of person. I read somewhere that children become very overwhelmed with too many toys and then they end up not playing with a room full of abundance. Nothing holds their attention. In a room full of too many toys, there's no room for an imagination to flourish. So, when I see my boys' creativity with ordinary household items, it makes me happy. I have to admit that too many brightly colored plastic things just assault my senses. I think I'm overwhelmed just as easily as a child can be with too much stuff!
So, the other night, my husband and I were talking over our much diminished Christmas budget for this year. We jokingly said that we would just wrap up some twigs from our yard. Maybe we could give them each an orange. (It seems that many of the Christmas books we've read involve a child's delight over receiving a single orange, but that's another story.) Of course, the boys would be disappointed. They already have so many sticks around my house! There's no need for more of them. But what could we buy or make that would be memorable, special and something inspiring for them? I'm just plain out of ideas this year. I know that I have strict criteria, but I don't relish the idea of spending money on something that won't be treasured. I'd rather not give a gift. I have a very small budget, but that doesn't depress me. Actually, it challenges me. Any ideas??