One of the things that my four-year-old has really wanted was a xylophone. At first we hesitated to buy her one. She already had a lot of toys and we figured it was something she would just forget about after a while.

But she was relentless in her pursuit of a xylophone. For months, whenever we went to the story, she would beg us to buy her one.

A few days before Christmas we came across one in Target’s discount isle. My wife and I debated if we should buy it for her or not. We already had gotten her several big gifts and we knew her grandparents had several gifts of their own to give to her. We thought it would just be white-noise in the background of all her other gifts. But it was only $3, so we decided to buy it.

One of the things we like to do at dinner is to go around the table and tell each other what our favorite part of the day was. Without missing a beat on Christmas Day my daughter said, “My xylophone!”

My wife and I were surprised at first. In addition to her xylophone my daughter also got a dollhouse that was almost as big as her, clothes, books, coloring books, markers, and several other gifts. Some of them were small and simple, but many of them were big and expensive.

Thinking about it more, though, it started to make sense. It’s what she had been requesting for quite some time. Whenever we went to another person’s house who had kids, she would always rush to find the xylophone.

This experience reminded me of one important principle about gifts:

A gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be valuable. 

Even as a minimalist, I struggle with thinking that sometimes just because something is bigger and more expensive that it must be better than something that is small, simple, or inexpensive.

But that’s not always the case. As my daughter recently taught me, sometimes it’s the small things that are the best things. In a world that is always striving to be bigger and flashier, small and simple that wins the day. Even our children, as much as they might talk otherwise, crave a simpler life.

The next time you’re out buying a gift for someone, remember:

The value of a gift isn’t determined by how much it costs.


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