His gifts weren't fancy and ranged anywhere from a plastic wine glass to a bath loofah. Some people got socks while others got chapstick. He was so excited though to pick a gift out for someone else and when we got home he wrapped them and could hardly wait until Christmas morning to pass them out. He was almost as excited to hand gifts out as he was to open his own.
This year when he noticed all the shopping bags appearing again, he asked when we would have our special shopping and hot chocolate day and so a tradition was formed. This weekend we went out, just the two of us to our local dollar store. He carried around a list of people he loved and picked one present for each person. This particular dollar store had an obscenely large toy section so the presents are a little more reflective of things he likes. His thought process was "I'll buy this for Lou Lou and then we can play it together when I go visit her." Next year before our shopping trip I'll be sure to sit him down and explain that when we buy someone a present, we buy them something they want, not something we want :)
So much of Christmas revolves around asking for presents and receiving presents and it is easy for kids to get caught up in the materialistic excess. And even though letting him buy presents that most likely will never get used seems unnecessary and extravagant even, I think it's great to encourage his excitement to give. He must have picked up a million toys and told me "Ryan would love this!" Spending the day alone with him is so much fun and we both look forward to the hot chocolate treat at the end. I love traditions and think they make the holidays so special so I look forward to this one for many years to come. Even when he's a teenager and wants nothing to do with me, I hope that I'll be able to lure him out for an afternoon of Christmas shopping with the promise of a hot chocolate and a cookie.