Meet Uni. Isn’t she just adorable? With her rosy cheeks, golden horn, and rainbow mane, who wouldn’t want her adorning the dresser in their bedroom? My daughter, Karlie, that’s who. No Uni for her! This magical creature now sits by my desk not only as a reminder we should all honor our uniqueness, but also as a little tap on my shoulder to follow my own advice when purchasing birthday gifts. Let me explain.
Back in July, Karlie turned eleven. Karl has never really been a toy kind of girl. She’s more the outdoorsy type, rarely playing with dolls or action figures, and she certainly doesn’t want any of these things during her tween years. She’s also on the shy side and doesn’t enjoy being the center of attention. Hence, she’s not really a party person where she’s the guest of honor. So what’s a mom to do when a birthday rolls ‘round, especially during Covid, when it’s more of a challenge to make a birthday special? Clearly, Uni is not the answer. What is the answer, then?
Gift cards and cash. We have now hit those years when the joy of unwrapping a much desired gift has been reduced to all but nothing. But isn’t it exciting when there’s something to open? When you see brightly colored gift wrap and you are wondering what kind of delight lies underneath! I still get excited to open a gift, and I will tell you, no matter how old I get, unwrapping a gift never grows old.
In a past post, I spoke about gifts that go away, and I still strongly advocate that. A little something fun to open along with a nice wad of cash is always fantastic. Karl probably would have liked a pack of gum or a bottle of lotion much better. I know she would have loved candy, but trust me, she has enough of that. So note to self, when you are in the supermarket, shopping for a family gathering, do not be swayed by the African violet in the cute little unicorn planter!
Looking at it now, the dying plant not only reminds me of my rule to purchase gifts that go away, but also of the very fact that Karlie was so happy on her day without having to open anything. She didn’t really need a “gift to go with her gift” and even during Covid it was an amazing day. She had a birthday parade of great proportions. Friends drove by with balloons, signs and candy, and the joy the parade brought was equivalent to that of a party. Everyone in my family was overwhelmed with all the love and good wishes. Her grandparents, aunt and uncle, cousins came for an outdoor dinner and we had a hysterically fun game of volleyball afterwards. The Dairy Queen blizzard cake was super yum. While Uni is adorable, she was not needed to make a day full of love any better.
This is a lesson I have been trying so hard to teach to my kids, but obviously, I need the reminder, as well. Getting something material and opening a gift pales in comparison to the joy of being with the people we love and care about. Connection, not things. Uni will more than likely be packed away soon, sent to live with another family, a forgotten and short lived member of the Smith clan. However, I’m still laughing in my head as I picture the volleyball game, and smiling as I think back on a lovely evening in the backyard with family. That I will remember forever.