By Traci L. Gaffney
When my oldest son Anthony, now 19 years old, was in elementary school, there was a beautiful idea in the newsletter just before Christmas. It was an idea the principal was sharing, and I took it and ran with it. I would love to share that idea with you today.
The idea is “You and Me Kid” cards. Over the years, the process has evolved in our family. This is what I do. I take blank business cards (you can get them at any office supply store) and I print on one side, “You and Me Kid.” I use a nice big font, usually in color, so it is attractive and easy to read.
Then, on the back of each card, I handwrite my gift. The best part is that the gifts are things like hugs, kisses, movie night with mom, favorite dinner, etc. Whatever they enjoy, would like to do with you, and creates connection and quality time moments … those are great gifts to write on the back of these cards. Then you can decorate each card with stickers, dots, colorful drawings, etc.
Take note, though, that there are some ground rules, and age does matter. You will want to communicate with your child and know in advance what your “agreements” are around redeeming the cards. Some children will expect that as soon as they present their card, you will drop everything to be with them. That may work some of the time; yet, not all of the time. If you are working or doing something else that requires your attention, you may need to schedule an “appointment” with your child (again, keep age in mind). Have a conversation and make a deal ahead of time, so there is less chance of disappointment. Let your child know that there will be times when you can be with them right in that moment, and there will also be times when you will need to complete something first. Both are okay. The KEY is that you honor your gift, and you show up when you say you will. (Very important.) Parents get busy, and kids LOVE quality time. If you schedule a time to connect in an hour, be sure to show up in an hour. If it’s a certain time you have scheduled, make sure you show up at that time. Let them know they are important.
The GIFT in these cards … they give your child an opportunity to ask for quality time with you and they give you an opportunity to spend that time with your child. It doesn’t require you to “entertain” your child or “guess” when your child needs you, or put guilt on you that you are not spending enough time with them. It gives them a voice that when their tank is feeling a little empty, they have something they can give you that doesn’t even require words, that will say, “I want to be with you.” Listen to that and honor it. It will create trust, connection and a closeness that cannot be replaced by anything else. My oldest son loved these when he was growing up. I stillput them in his stocking.
Thinking of things that your child would enjoy doing with you, and offering them on this special card is like wrapping yourself up with a bow, and saying, “Merry Christmas. I love you.” You are giving YOU, which is the best gift they could ever receive for Christmas or any other day of the year. This is a gift that builds lasting memories and connection.
May you experience much joy, love, and togetherness this holiday season, and connect in ways that are deeply felt by the heart.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!