It is narrated by Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, that Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said: "Exchange presents with one another, for they remove ill feelings from the hearts" (Tirmidhi).
The dollar bills kept rolling in. Some gave me fives, others tens, and others still, twenties. I just kept adding them to my stash. It was Eid after all, and I was getting my Eidee.
Eidee, in some Muslim cultures, is money given as a gift to children on Eid instead of a presen.
For me, growing up, Eid was a day to dress in fancy clothes, pray in a big hall, maybe go to someone's house or invite someone over, and then collect the same bills (minus inflation) year after year and later give them to my parents.
As a child, I had no value for the bills. While the initial excitement of getting $10 and $20 at that age is fun, it eventually wears off. In the end, they're just pieces of paper with dead presidents or prime ministers on them.
Getting an Eidee instead of an Eid gift didn't scar me emotionally, but Eid became another day of the year, as opposed to the festive occasion it is supposed to be. It's just easier to pull out cash instead of spending tiring hours hunting for gifts. But there are definite advantages to giving a gift to a child instead of Eidee.
First, when children see their non-Muslim friends and classmates receiving gifts on the holidays, specifically Christmas, there is a potential to feel left out. Gift-giving allows the child to show and tell their friends about what they received during Eid. This also provides an excellent opportunity to explain what Eid is and the importance of the day for Muslims, even kids.
Next, giving a gift indicates you felt they were important enough to merit the time and trouble it took to find something appropriate.
Third, younger kids value tangible gifts over cash. They will remember the gift longer than the money you may have given them. However, Eid gifts should not become a competition amongst parents and children for the latest expensive toy. Allah does not love extravagance. "And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskeen (poor who beg) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the devils, and the Devil (Satan) is ever ungrateful to his Lord" (Quran: 17:26 and 27).
Also consider this Hadith in Muslim. Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: "Three things please Allah and three displease Him. It pleases Him that you should worship Him without associating anything with Him and that you should hold fast to the rope of Allah all together without being divided. It displeases Him that you should indulge in much talk and much asking and in wasting money."
Our spending must be moderate, and in line with what we can afford. Having to take on a second job or borrow money to buy presents, as is the case with some people when it comes to Christmas shopping, reflects an unhealthy and dangerous attitude towards gift-giving.
You may think it's too late to get Eid presents for the kids now. No problem. Start saving and planning for next Eid. Then when you've given that special child or children in your life their gift, watch their faces and compare: Which made them happier, the well-thought out gift they wanted, or the ten dollars it took you seconds to whip out of your wallet