This year, my husband and I have decided to give the gift that keeps on giving at our semi-annual Eid celebration with his family. Every Eid, we all get together and have a massive gift exchange. Well, it used to be massive (there are 17 people in my husband’s immediate family including spouses and children), now it’s been toned down to just the kids.
It’s quite an exciting time. We all go over to my mother in law’s house the night before Eid. You can smell curry and roti wafting through the house, her Eid lights adorn her front window and there’s always some delicious homemade appetizer placed on the table. The evening ends with a chocolatey dessert afterwards. It’s festive, lively and the kids love it.
My children tell me the best part of it all is the giant mountain of brightly wrapped presents that are piled around the fireplace waiting to be ripped open. Every Eid, they get a ton of presents. They love digging into the gift bag after I grudgingly make them open the card first and say, “thank you”. Then they dive right in eager to see what new item is waiting to be played with. The next day, I can already see them getting bored of the latest dump truck, puzzle or game.
It irks me to no end. Especially because this Eid (as opposed to Eid-ul Fitr) is known as the Festival of Sacrifice. How are we supposed to teach our children about sacrifice if we are constantly shoving new toys and more of everything at them?
Well, this Eid, we’ve decided to try something different. Instead of buying a bunch of random crap for the kids in the family, my husband and I have decided to give them each a gift card. No, not to their local mall, but to a charity. Boring you say? I thought so too – until I did some research.
There are some great ideas out there for charitable gifts for kids. Some people have asked me what new toys my kids want this year and after Googling a few ideas, I found some wonderful gifts that might actually TEACH my kids and their cousins something. I love the idea of helping to provide a girl with an education or buying textbooks for kids in poor communities around the world, a great gift that Oxfam Canada can provide. Or even adopting an animal as my guys are still quite young and the concept of helping to care for an animal won’t go over their little heads – a great idea from World Wildlife Fund .
One of my favourite sites to give a gift from is Kiva – where you loan a small business owner in a developing country $25 or more which goes towards their business. I’ve often gotten a gift like this and felt so fulfilled in providing a seamstress in Bangladesh with new materials or a woman in Pakistan buy a Buffalo to sell its milk. Even a simple donation to an organization like Islamic Relief to provide food to families all over the world makes a difference.
So this year, I’ve let family who’ve expressed the desire to give my kids an Eid gift know that instead of a new toy or sweater that they don’t need, we’d much prefer a gift that teaches them that it’s better to give than to receive.
Sure, I doubt I’ll see a look of glee on any of their faces as they open the envelope, but I also won’t have to deal with watching them play with a new toy for five minutes then chuck it over their shoulders and come tell me that they’re bored.
We have already picked out a new bicycle for my three-year-old (a big boy bike!), a set of walkie talkies for my four-year-old and a little brown doll for my baby girl (yes, I insisted on finding a brown one). So it’s not like they won’t be getting anything new or exciting, they just won’t be getting more of it ten times over.
We also don’t want to shock their cousins so each is still going to get a small gift (a gift card from Chapters/Indigo) along with a gift certificate to make a donation to a family in need somewhere in the world.
As for what their cousins and their parents will think, we’ll have to wait and see till next week. Here’s hoping they’ll be thanking us 20 years from now…or not.
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