02 December 2012

gifts for godchildren

I'm so pleased with some gifts that I delivered last weekend that I'm very tempted to write a self-congratulatory post. I'm going to try to turn it into an informative post for others, though. My apologies if I fail and just sound prideful.

We have two godsons. One is a young adult; the other is six years old. We're far away from them this year, but were visiting last weekend, and so I wanted to give them gifts - partly just to show our love but partly to foster their spiritual growth. So I went shopping for Advent gifts.
For our young adult godson, we bought a collection of Advent reflections, one for each day of the season (plus Christmas Day and Boxing Day): Inside the Christmas Storyby Bash & Bash. It's written by a priest who once served the parish of a relative of ours, with his wife, which gave it a little extra personal connection.

Sheila, at Explore and Express, has written a post about children's spiritual styles, and I agree that it's important not to assume that the same things will touch the same children. It's almost trite, isn't it, to comment on how different siblings can be. Our young godson and his younger sister are a case in point. He is deliberate, even cautious. He likes to know things, and to get things right. His sister is impulsive; she has no patience for long explanations. She's very extroverted - friendly and open.

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For our six-year-old godson, I bought the Advent magnets shown above. The big magnets on the top half of the sheet separate out into six - the wreath and candles, plus five separate flame magnets. Each "flame" can be placed over a candle on each Sunday of Advent (and Christmas Day). Below this are five "cards", with a suggested short Bible reading and prayer to go with the lighting of each candle. Besides encouraging his word-based expression of faith it also helps him practice his new reading skills, with the themes for each candle written in such large letters.

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We don't usually buy presents for this boy's little sister, but in the shop I spotted a holding cross (similar to the one pictured here) which was especially proportioned for a young child's hand. Do you remember the Lego stick that we pretended was a prayer cross? That was made by this little girl! So I thought of her as soon as I saw this cross, and really wanted to get it for her. Her first words upon opening it were, I remember we used to have a cross like this in Junior Church. 

I knew you would remember! I replied, and that's why I wanted to get this for you. Her second comment had to do with how small it was. I explained that it was designed for a child's hand but she corrected me: This was designed for a BABY's hand! Still, she was pleased with it. Being an extrovert, she thanked me for it (or told me how much she liked it) about four different times. Finally she said, When we have Junior Church again, I'm going to bring this, and we can pass it around the circle at prayer time.

I'm not sure our godson explicitly thanked us for his gift, except when prompted by his mother. But he immediately opened up the package and found a place to display the magnets, and later carefully asked me to help him read all the different themes. I took the opportunity for a quick chat with him about the fact that these themes don't match up exactly with the Godly Play themes for the Sundays, and encouraged him to ponder ways in which they do match up and ways in which they don't. We both laughed at the suggestion that Mary and Joseph's entry into Bethlehem might have been peaceful - probably not! Towards the end of our visit he caught my eye and slyly demonstrated how a flame would look atop a candle. As soon as we'd both seen it he snatched it away again, as if to stress how well he understood that it was not yet time to light that candle! So even though he didn't gush over the present the way his sister did, I know he appreciated it and will use it in his observance of Advent.

What about your own observances of Advent? What are you doing? And if you have children, what are you doing with them? I love the Busted Halo's suggestion that our preparations for Advent can be like preparing for a special guest. It's not that everything has to be perfect or that we need to pretend to be somebody we're not. If you're an extrovert - go ahead and gush! If you're a word-based spiritual type, do a special Bible study for the season. It's not too late to start. 


  1. Hi Storyteller, One of the things that I think is so striking about this post is how carefully you have observed these children in order to pick out something that they deeply appreciated. So many times adults don't spend enough time figuring these things out. What a great example for us all, both in looking for meaningful gifts and seeking to know the little ones in our lives.

    1. Just wanted to let you know that I featured this post as a highlight.: )


    2. Thanks, Sheila, for both your comments! I think another useful tip is to TELL the recipient WHY you picked this gift for them. I was so excited to chime in when the little girl said, "I remember this from Junior Church", and to answer, "That's exactly why I got it for you - I knew you would remember it."


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