I love giving gifts. It's honestly one of my favorite things to do because it gives me a chance to spend time thinking about what would make a person I care about happy. I think about what they like or what they need and I go hunting for the exact thing that will feel perfect for them (it's one of my love languages).

So it might seem shocking when I say this: I can't give my son a Christmas gift this year. Not that I don't want to see him be happy or make him feel loved, but because I am tired and I have spent the past year buying him gifts at random times to either help him or me feel like we're getting through this pandemic and finding joy where we can, and honestly? He doesn't need any more stuff.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I bought him a trampoline. With playgrounds closing and the world shutting down, I was worried about how my very energetic 4-year-old would be able to expend said energy, so we splurged on this big toy that now hangs out in our backyard and he loves it and we do, too, actually.

So instead of another plastic toy, we'll jump on our trampoline. Even if it's covered in snow. Even if we're wearing three layers each.

We also went to a theme park indoors in the new American Dream mall. I felt like we had missed out on a summer of travel and adventure, so I thought why not bring him somewhere that is a new experience for both of us. He loves Paw Patrol and Sponge Bob and all those characters and he was amazed to get to "see" them in person (behind an appropriately social-distanced barrier) and it was also fun to watch him get to go on real amusement park rides. It was weird to do this all while masked and to use hand sanitizer at every station, but in many ways, it was an amazing family experience we got to have together. And he asks every time when we can go back.

So instead of another gift to add to the clutter, we'll make a plan for when we can go back to Nickelodeon Universe and ride the rides and say hello to Sponge Bob again.

I've bought him tons of books and a guitar and a balance bike to help distract us from school being closed or the playdates that didn't happen, so we'll break those all out on Christmas morning and read the books together, and listen to a 'concert' he'll make with the guitar and let him zip around indoors on the balance bike because that's what we need on Christmas morning.

We need each other. We need time together and silliness and play, and we need things to be easy. Because this year has been anything but that.

We don't need more toys or something to open or wrapping paper everywhere. And I certainly don't need the stress of masking up to go shopping or staying up late to wrap all the presents.

My son doesn't need a mama who is tired and feels overburdened and burnt out. So doing no gifts is a present for him and for me. And I'm really looking forward to it.