Gift-giving is on everyone’s tongue right now. Instead of the weather, people are greeting me with, “have you finished your holiday shopping?” I strongly dislike shopping, malls, and buying stuff, but to answer your question: Yes, I have finished. I got it out of the way a while ago, mostly online, so I could enjoy the season and be present in all these chaotic holiday moments with twins and my singletons running amok in the house.
One consideration I have been careful to make is gift-giving and our twins. Ours are identical girls, soon to be four years old, who also have two other sisters. We have learned to strike a balance between repetition, individuality and superfluous giving. As the girls grow older (as they are wont to do, in spite of my wishes), this will evolve, of course, but here is what has worked for us:
- We have made suggestions to family and friends, but never have we ever dictated what people should buy them. Above everything else, we would like to model grace, gratitude and humility for our girls. Those values come before presents.
- When asked (usually by grandparents) if one should buy the twins similar, the same or different gifts, our answer has been: Similar gifts (please) when possible. A doll, for instance, with slight differences in colour or outfit means each twin opens a similar gift and can share in each other’s enthusiasm while still feeling ownership over the toy that is clearly chosen for her. Being made to feel special and chosen is important, no matter what age.
- When possible, (and accommodating their young ages) we have tried to have them open gifts at the same time. Delayed gratification can be hard for two toddlers to understand. If I can find the two similar-sized gifts from the same giver, I’ll have them open them simultaneously. It just avoids the crying from one twin, with far-fetched assurances like “yours will come later/next.” Call me lazy, but Christmas morning is not the time for difficult lessons in patience and understanding.
Like every other stepping stone on this crazy journey parenting multiples, we learn as we go and sometimes have to do things differently from families with singletons. Holiday gifts (and birthday gifts) can bring out the best and worst in little-people behaviour. If patience, kindness and understanding are at the root of our intentions, then I’m sure we’re doing our best.