I’ve recently come to realize that my kids just don’t need anything else this Christmas. I swear I’m not being a grinch or suffering from other symptoms of low T (lacking that thrilling holiday feeling). That’s right, it’s not testosterone. It’s the Christmas induced joy gleaned from giving a ton of stuff and money away. Anyway, I’m not lacking in it.
I read an article the other day that said most people plan to spend $1000+ on gifts, but that number only increases if those people are parents. The article said that a MAJORITY <— yep I said majority, of parents plan to go into debt over their purchases. They will either be stealing from their emergency savings, dipping into their retirement, or racking up large amounts that will take them six months or more to pay off onto credit cards. I’m sorry but someone needs to tell them that’s ridiculous. Here, I’ll do it. If you’re stealing from your future or your security in order to get that gleaming gift that will make your child’s eyes light up for all of 30 seconds, you’re being ridiculous. Stop it. Stahhhhp it.
Back to my own kids…they have too much. They don’t need more. Last year, post holidays, we had to buy another cabinet for the living room so that we could house all of their pirate like Xmas booty. Mostly, we did this because I got sick of seeing my living room look like a toy grenade went off, and my husband got tired of stepping on barbie shoes and legos while holding in the swear words that were screaming to be free behind his clenched teeth. They have a cube delegated to dolls, another delegated to kitchen accessories, another meant solely for superheroes, and one that is specifically for baseballs, basketballs, and footballs (basically anything they can throw at Mom while she walks down the hallway). They have all this, and I happen to know kids that are having trouble getting three meals a day. I worked for six years in social services and sit on the Board of Directors for an organization that pairs volunteers with abused and neglected kids. That these worlds can exist on the same street as my kids who receive hundreds of dollars in Christmas gifts confounds me. It shouldn’t be like that.
Plus, after two family Christmas celebrations in addition to our own morning of opening Santa’s leavings, they don’t know all of what they have or who gave it. Cuz. They. Get. Too. Much. Honestly, I think most kids end up in this situation.
So if you must buy for them, I implore to think of other ways to give to them. Like these-
- Get them something to do with you on Christmas. Make something with them. Engage those hungry brains of theirs. If you have toilet paper rolls, you have something that they will love doing. Check out these Inside Out characters made completely of toilet paper rolls and construction paper. There are also these Xmas trees made out of wrapping paper. My kids won’t think of the money you spent or the luxuriousness of their gift, but they will remember that you, an adult they love, took the time to put something together with them on a day that you were busy. I don’t mind letting you borrow them for ten minutes while the rest of us sit around and stuff our faces or watch football. Also, these hand print/foot print crafts have two things the kids enjoy going for them: 1) they get to keep the craft & 2) they get to get messy while making it.
- Instead of making something with them, make something for them. My kids love cardboard boxes. If you can make a cardboard box into something cool you just may get that holy shnikies reaction from them. These people came up with a grocery setup, a castle, and a car. The best part? These projects probably cost the same that a my little pony they may play with twice would.
- Write them a letter. I do this all the time but YOU don’t. Okay, I admit that maybe it’s not as immediately gratifying as opening up a shiny new toy, but in the long run it’s something they’ll always have, a little piece of you that at eighteen they’ll still be able to cherish. Write them what you hope their Christmas is like this year, in ten years, their first year as a parent if they choose that route. Write to them about what you did with your own parents to celebrate. Tell them what your most lasting Christmas memory is. Tell them where you were when you heard they were born. Tell them every child’s birth is magical, which is certainly a thing we celebrate this time of year. Give them that little piece of you, your voice, that will linger so much longer than a lalaloopsy.
- Buy them an experience. Get them passes to the children’s museum, an art class, a swim lesson. I promise I’ll send you pictures of them experiencing this kind of gift. Remember that whole lesson about teaching a child to fish? Teaching them something is worth so much more than a plastic gift.
But, after all, keep in mind that you don’t have to get them anything. You love them. That’s enough. They get things from Santa, from several branches of cousins and friends, they don’t need you to stretch your bank account. They need you to sit and take a picture with them, to kiss their foreheads and tell them you’re so happy you got to see them on this special day. Our kids celebrate so much during the winter. They celebrate Hanukkah as well, and they get little gifts or candies to mark each day of candle lighting. They light lanterns to float away on the solstice, thanking the heavenly powers for a world where there will always be more light, where we’re blessed enough to be able to provide light for those suffering in darkness. They. Get. Stuff.
But the holidays are supposed to be so much more than that.