Childhood gifts should be something to be cherished.
Childhood gifts should be something to be cherished. Eva-Katalin

Hunt for treasure in excess

A WOODEN trinket box sits on a shelf in my lounge room - it's the oldest thing I own and, despite the broken latch, I treasure it dearly.

On the rare occasions I give it a dose of Mr Sheen I am taken back to the day I saw it in a shop window, crossed my fingers and wished it was mine.

Days later I was thrilled to receive it as a birthday gift from my parents.

The memory of my excitement as I peeled the paper away to discover my wish had come true is just as precious as the box itself.

Over the years I've been given other gifts I treasure but that wooden box will always be the first special thing I owned.

The damaged latch and tattered velvet lining remind me how much it has been loved over the years.

I wonder how many gifts my grandchildren are going to receive that will tug at their heartstrings.

I put a lot of thought into the gifts I give and I hope at least a few of the things I buy them in the coming years will become precious reminders of their childhood.

I also hope they have enough birthday parties to know they are loved but not so many they become an expectation. I can count on one hand the number of birthday parties I've had and my children were equally "deprived”.

No way was I hosting three parties every year. I did, however, supply cordial and cake at home for friends who turned up still wearing their school uniform. And a lot of fun was had by all.

At some point birthdays have become an opportunity for parents to go "shopping” for big ticket toys and parties are a chance to outdo your friends.

Cake smashes, photo shoots, jumping castles, over-styled sleepovers and trips to expensive play centres are the bare minimum these days. Delivering all that wow factor seems expensive and exhausting compared to my efforts.

And what happened to being grateful for what you get?

"My daughter turns three next week but she has everything already so I need ideas on what to tell family to buy for her,” a mum recently posted on a Facebook page.

Another parent offers up a list of items she would like for her son's birthday, but reminds those attending the gala event to include the receipt so she can return unwanted items.

I don't need a list: my grand-twins turn two soon and I'll be gifting them books rather than some battery-operated toy they'll soon outgrow, but I can't wait for them to reach an age where they will appreciate their own special box.