This is part of a series about Feeling Rich. There are past posts #10, #9, #8, #7, #6, #5, and #4 that you can read before I finish off my top ten.
We have been blessed on both sides with parents who have done well. Both sets are working and putting money toward retirement.
My parents are small business owners that have just recently added 2 employees for the first time in 30 years. Yes, even in this slow economy their business is able to grow. My Hubby's folks were recently transferred to the main office, where their job descriptions and salaries grew.
Hubby's folks are concerned about education, so they have been setting money aside each year for our kids' college fund. For Xmas we usually put something creative on our list for them to get us. One year it was gymnastic lessons, another year we did a family membership at the YMCA, and other times we have had swimming lessons. I am thinking that in future years we may ask for music lessons, or memberships to museums.
I know some people are put off by being so blunt about gifts, but this is a win-win for both of us. I know that they don't really like to go shopping, but they want to get something for our family that we will actually use.
We can take pictures of the kids doing their special activities and Grandma and Grandpa can brag to all their friends about what great grand kids they have.
It keeps them in touch with what my kids are into. When they call on the phone, they have something to talk about.
The interest in the gift lasts for more than a day. Because lessons or passes last for months, they feel like they are getting their moneys worth.
We don't have to put it in a yard sale a few months later. The interests of kids can shift so quickly. And when you have too many toys, it is hard to keep up with whatever is the favorite of the day. But if you get a gift that you do, then you won't have to figure out what to do with it when it gets old or broken.
My folks on the other hand do like to shop. So it is a bit more tricky to balance the flow of stuff. I know they buy stuff because they love us, but we really don't need so much stuff. I don't want them to feel rejected if we say no to stuff, so here again I tend to share more specific needs.
My folks like to travel, so we will often go with them, and then they can be as extravagant as they want, because they are spending their money making memories with our kids, instead of making clutter.
They also like to take us out to eat. They know that this is an area that we try to keep tabs on in our own budget, so they feel it is special to be able to treat us everyone in a while.
I try to keep them updated on interests and sizes, so that when my mom finds a great sale, she can get whatever she wants, and knows that my kids will probably like it. I have learned to mostly get just winter stuff for my kids because we live where there is a lot of snow and my folks don't, so we have a different definition of dressing for the cold.
But it wasn't until after reading Gary Smalley's Book about Love Languages that I became more open to accepting all this generosity. Both sets of parents weren't giving us stuff because they thought we really needed it. They gave it because they loved us. Our family has chosen to live more simply than others, but that doesn't mean that we have to reject the gifts of love from our families.
It is also nice to see that our kids have not become spoiled by all this gift giving either. When grandma and grandpa come, they are ready with arms open for hugs, not presents.
This has also made us very thankful. Both families give us things that we wouldn't normally have gotten for ourselves. So when we use the gifts, we feel special and loved, which is the whole point of gifts to begin with.