On Happiness and Presents

I just started writing a post about the gluttonous amount of stuff the kids got for Christmas and it sounded familiar.  Turns our I wrote and never published something very similar a long time ago.  Here's the original post from December 2007. 

Alex being very happy Birthday season just passed for the Russell boys and Alex and Conner received about as many toys and you find in your average retail toy store.

I was a little surprised to find that while they have a powerful desire for more and more toys, those toys don't actually make them happier. Don't get me wrong, they had a blast opening them and Conner carries a one of the smaller back-hoes around with him everywhere. But as the days pass after opening all the gifts I noticed that most of the time the boys were happier when they were playing together (without toys) than when they played with the toys.

Put them in a room with a bunch of toys and within 30 seconds someone is crying. But...

Put them in a room with nothing but a couch and some pillows and they entertain each other jumping off the couch onto the pillows nearly indefinitely (at least by 4 year old standards). And all the while they are laughing so hard and smiling so big that to watch them you'd swear that jumping off a couch was the secret to life and happiness.

That last paragraph really needed a picture and I searched a long time for a picture the boys playing, but I couldn't find one. Most of the time when they're playing we're having too much fun to bother with pictures. The ones we do have all pretty much look like the one above. It's a picture of Alex tackling his Grandfather. The boys seem happiest when they're moving around.
I read this great Dear Santa letter and it got me thinking about Christmas gifts for the boys. As a parent my favorite part of Christmas is watching how much fun the kids have. (That and I'd really like to sleep in just once...) In years past we were extremely focused on filling the bottom of the tree with wrapped boxes.  Christmas morning was a frenzy and the boys couldn't keep track of all the things they got and wanted to stop and play while more presents were pushed on them.

This year we've spoken with Santa and are going for a different approach. Instead of volume we're going for a few toys that encourage the boys to play together and with the family. I have a hunch this will be their happiest Christmas yet.

So that's what I wrote in 2007. Things have changed a bit, but not much. More on that in the next post.