So sweet

My Kids Cut Me Out Of This Holiday Tradition & I Love It

As a mother, it just makes me so happy to watch.

It was a Sunday afternoon and my 18-year-old daughter had just gotten back from Christmas shopping. She was so excited to show me the gifts she’d gotten for her two brothers. She always pays attention when they point out something they want in a store; she knows their favorite foods and where they like to eat. She went right upstairs and wrapped everything herself. But this wasn’t a new development, the product of newfound maturity — she’s done this for years. All my kids do.

My daughter started it. Since she was 10, she’s saved some of her allowance, her birthday money, or even asked to do extra jobs around the house to earn money to buy Christmas gifts on her own. I vividly remember the first time I took her out shopping to get gifts for her two brothers: She pushed the cart around the store herself, and when we got to the checkout, I wanted to pay for her brothers’ gifts, but she insisted on doing it herself.

After her brothers saw that, they wanted to get gifts for their siblings too. That was the year the tradition started. And I can’t think of anything that warms my heart more.

There were some years they didn’t have any money and instead of buying things — or letting me buy them — they made things for each other. Once my son felted little animals, and another year my daughter made everyone a bracelet. They’ve written each other letters and tucked them in their stockings. They’ve looked around their rooms and re-gifted each other things they knew their brother or sister really liked. They’ve taken candy from a free candy bowl at a restaurant and saved it for each other.

Now that they’re older, can drive, and like to do their Christmas shopping on their own, they get each other things with zero prompting from me. Not only do they pay close attention to what their siblings want, they wrap the gifts themselves and are so excited to hand the presents out on Christmas morning.

As their mother, that’s really the best gift for me on Christmas: The look on their faces as they watch each other open the gifts. How they sit on the edge of their seat because they can’t wait to see what their brother or sister thinks about what they got for them. They way it makes them feel like doing something nice for their siblings.

My teens buying each other gifts isn’t extravagant, and it doesn’t take a lot of time. In fact, they never spend over $20 on each other. But as we all know, it’s the little things that mean so much in this life, especially at the holidays.

Katie lives in Maine with her three kids, two ducks, and a Goldendoodle. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, at the gym, redecorating her home, or spending too much money online.