Once upon a time, there was an amazing young man in my first hour seventh grade science class. Over the years, there were hundreds of great young people in my classes, but this particular young man, Josh, was special.  After our oldest son passed away, Josh volunteered to fill in as the big brother of our clan, keeping true to that promise every year since. Josh and his bride gave me the honorary title of Other Mom at their wedding ceremony; a gesture which I will never forget. When they were expecting their little one, I excitedly began knitting and praying. When little “L” entered the world, she had a rough start, causing my prayers to deepen for a little girl who was miles away fighting, while we were hurrying to get there to see her. When I finally held her, my heart was elated as she was wrapped in the knitted blanket I had made.  So overcome with emotion, I forgot to snap a picture, and later, asked Josh and Nicole if they would. The text I received back had a picture of L wrapped snugly with these words, “Grandma, yours is my favorite of all the blankies!”

Grandma? Did I read this correctly? This had never been discussed before. Overwhelmed with emotion, I sat at our picnic table and cried my little eyes out. L has two amazing grandmothers; so, I asked to be given the name of Grammy out of respect to them. So Grammy Kandy I am!

Remembering back to our own four childrens’ first Christmases, there was one reverberating lesson we learned over the years — we bought way too much stuff. We should have just given them a box, because all four children found the boxes more intriguing than the toys.

Apparently, we are slow learners because it took us to baby number three to come to this realization, and we decided to form a new, much simpler, tradition. Instead of elaborate Christmases replete with piles of toys, we would give one new Christmas ornament and a new pair of jammies each year. Surprisingly, instead of shock and awe, our kids loved the tradition, and even as teenagers and young adults, opened the traditional gift first.

As L’s first Christmas approached, I almost had to hold myself back at the toy aisle and at the Cracker Barrel (the downfall of all grandparents), because there were so many things my grandbaby could use. Then I remembered: they only played with the box. I embarked down a different path…the Christmas box.

I found a suitable box which could be used for years as L grows. Because it was the first year, we added the traditional ornament and jammies, but also included a “Happy Birthday Jesus” kit.  As she grows, each year I will ask for the box to migrate back to our home so I can fill it again for Christmas.  I hope that someday she will pass a similar tradition on to her kiddos, and she will remember how much she was and is loved by her Grammy.

Christmas box ideas:

Birth to 5:

Age-Appropriate Nativities
Happy Birthday Jesus Kit – special cake pan, cake mix, candles, Christmas mugs

Ages 6 – 18:

Favorite Christmas DVDs and treats (like popcorn)
Tickets to a live play or show
Supplies to restock the Happy Birthday Jesus kit

*Note on ornaments:  Consider the age of the child and safety when choosing ornaments.  Our children receive their favorite bird ornament each year, creating a unique collection to be treasured for years.