Dinner and a Movie

We are thrilled to feature another blog post by guest writer, Erica Hunt!  Erica is on staff in our Emerging Generation ministry at Woodland Hills.  She and her husband enjoy spending quality time with their three daughters.


I don’t remember if it was a moment in a store or a moment at home, but I realized I wanted out. I wanted out of the consumer-driven way to experience the Christmas holiday with my family. They had everything they needed and much more. I found myself daydreaming about the Little House on the Prairie Christmas episode where Laura and crew received an orange in their stocking. They were thrilled! What a novelty…what a luxury! I wondered if I could find an exotic, sweet-tasting fruit I could box up and put under the tree for each of our three girls. Unfortunately, the feasibility of that idea had a shorter shelf life than any fruit on the market.

We have never gone overboard with gifts and have always tried to be thoughtful with our giving. Still, there was an encroaching uneasiness in my spirit as Thanksgiving gave way to Christmas hype every year. We try to live in a way that reflects our values, yet this was an area we felt like could be more aligned and better reflect things we care about.

I had heard countless times from an abundance of sources about the gifts of time and attention meaning more than any toy or trinket. It was one of things that usually went in one ear and out the other. Until the year I decided we needed to try something new. My husband and I decided to test out this axiom and see if it was true.

So, I found empty shoe or cereal boxes and wrapped up a piece of paper entitling the gift-opener to a day-long date with a parent. They had a budget to keep, but otherwise the day was completely, 100% up to them. I was nervous as they opened their gifts, uncertain as to how they would respond. Maybe they were just being polite, but they actually seemed excited. Together, they confirmed at least a dozen times that they were actually in charge of the day.

“You mean we can do ANYTHING?”

“Can we go to movies all day?”

“Can we go sledding and then to the Children’s Museum?”

“Can we go to TWO restaurants in ONE day?!?”

This was about 6 or 7 years ago. Now the girls are 12, 15 and 16 so starting a couple of years ago we gave them the choice whether they wanted to continue to get time with us for their Christmas present or whether they wanted to try going the more traditional route of material gifts. In equal parts surprise and delight on our part, they have unanimously chosen to continue the dates with my husband and me. We alternate every year, so this year I get to spend an entire day with my 15-year old. I can’t wait! I’ve heard rumors of manicures, deep-dish pizza, a movie, the science museum or any combination of the above.

It might not be an orange in her stocking, but it seems to be special for both her and me. I couldn’t be more excited for her to open her present this year!

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