As of now, I’m a mother of two daughters, a one-and-a-half-year-old and a just-turned-three-year-old. This past Christmas was the first time that my older daughter really “got it” as far as festive fun goes. Setting up the nativity, baking cookies, listening to Christmas music, reading the story of Jesus’s birth, decorating the tree…all of our traditional holiday activities were thoroughly anticipated and then absolutely relished by this spunky little toddler.
And her excitement, of course, was delightful to me. I’ve always been a celebration enthusiastic, and having a wonder-filled companion to partake in my favorite rituals with me made all the usually joyful endeavors all the more thrilling.
A few weeks after Christmas, we celebrated my ebullient daughter’s third birthday, and once again, her excitement was both palpable and contagious. Cake! Presents! Balloons! Sprinkles! She was positively buzzing.
And then, a few days ago, she overheard my husband and me chatting about Valentine’s Day, and her little ears perked up.
“Is Valentine’s Day a holiday?!”
“Will there be treats?!?!”
Oh, girl! Needless to say, we have an exciting few (many, God-willing) years ahead of us, and let me tell you: I am here for it.
The whole exchange did get me thinking about how we celebrate minor and major holidays as a family, including the aspect of gifts. I grew up in a family where we received gifts for Christmas, birthdays, Easter and Sacraments, but I had friends for whom Easter baskets weren’t a part of their celebration, and other friends who got presents on Valentine’s Day and similar minor holidays. My husband and I haven’t fully decided what we are going to do in the gift department yet (so far, we’ve kept things verrrryyyy simple — like, one present on Christmas simple — which we could easily do with babies and toddlers who don’t know to expect anything else!). But as we are entering the phase of life in which our daughters will remember more and more, as well as have more and more opinions about gifts that they might like to receive, I’ve been considering what our gift giving philosophy might look like.
I have no particular or deep answers, but I do know that I’d like to include a meaningful Catholic gift at least once a year, whether that be for their birthdays, Christmas, their name saint’s feast day, or some other time. I want these gifts to be items that will age with them and that they’ll treasure throughout their lives.
Anyone else join me in my hope to share meaningful Catholic gifts with our daughters? If so, here are some ideas that I’m considering:
This Ave Maria print. I love that this print offers a unique twist on the classic image of Mary, Mother of Jesus. The neutral colors and oversized wreath of flowers, as well as the contrast between the background of the image and the figure of Mary make the print especially eye-catching.
This Madonna Decade rosary. In addition to being a holiday enthusiast, my daughter is a pink enthusiast. At least several times a day she’ll remind me that pink and purple are her favorite colors, and if I allowed her to dress herself entirely (I’m too much of a control freak for this), she would be head-to-toe pepto bismol. That said, I know she would love this light pink rosary from the first time she laid eyes on it, and it’s a timeless piece that she’ll be able to carry with her throughout life.
This Winter Madonna Statue. I cannot begin to describe how much I love this intricate and colorful statue of Mother Mary holding an infant Jesus. I’d choose the winter version of the figurine (decorated in garments and floral designs of the winter season) because of my daughter’s January birth, but there are spring, summer, and fall options as well.
This Dainty Benedictine Bracelet is perfect for tiny wrists, but will also look lovely on big ones. When I gift this to my daughter, I plan to teach her the prayers associated with the medal (they are identified by the acronyms etched on the piece) so that the bracelet can serve as a reminder to pray as well as a beautiful piece of jewelry.
This Slane Abbey Cross. Our home is filled with crosses and crucifixes, but a cross like this one, gifted to my daughter, would be hers to place wherever she liked, most likely in her bedroom. And then, it’s hers to take with her whenever she leaves. I’m drawn to this one for her because of the heart and rays at the cross’s center, representing Christ, the light of the world.
This Blessings Journal. Okay, unlike a statue or a rosary, this journal isn’t necessarily going to age with my daughter, as she’ll likely fill it up within months of the time I give it to her, whenever that may be (probably not for a few more years, as she isn’t of writing age yet). However, the knowledge that journaling can be a form of prayer, which I plan to share with her as I gift this journal, is something I hope she will take with her and remember for a lifetime.
This Framed Fruits of the Spirit print. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control: are there qualities of character that I more hope to cultivate in my family than these? I think not. By gifting my daughter this print, I am honoring — and hopefully teaching her to honor — these spiritual gifts. May a gift like this one be a reminder to tend carefully and diligently to the fruit that the spirit has planted in our lives.