It’s mid-December which means holiday shopping is full swing and I just put in a pretty large order on Amazon, of course using credit because everyone knows that’s the American way. I’m shopping for a one year old this year, which has me constantly surfing the net for things I think she’d like. Things that have buttons that light up, make sounds, and move. We recently fenced in our backyard, which has also caused a flurry of panic because we have don’t have much to put in that yard. So I’m constantly looking at slides and swings and other outdoor toys.
All of this browsing and clicking and growing debt has made me ponder the question, how much Christmas is too much? As parents, we all dream of a living room full of gifts, our little ones tearing into them and thanking us from the bottom of their little hearts while glowing and grabbing the next present from under the tree. But the reality is, kids, at least one year olds, don’t really grasp the idea of gratitude. They don’t understand that you had to work overtime for that race car, or that you spent an entire weekend and drove hours looking for the newest fad craze toy. They just like getting stuff. New stuff. Stuff they’ve never seen before. They’re constantly taking this world in and learning. What are we teaching them at Christmas? Hey, all this stuff is yours and it’s free just because?
Avery, of course, has been a very good girl and deserves presents. But she doesn’t really know how this Christmas or Santa thing works. She doesn’t know that without good behavior, theoretically, she won’t get gifts. She also isn’t old enough to understand the joy of giving gifts. This will come much later in her life, I know, but I wish there was a way to incorporate it now.
When it comes down to it, most of us are walking that fine line at holiday time. We need to only buy what we can truly afford, but we also somehow feel like failures for not being able to get them more. I’m trying to keep our gift buying under control. In all honesty, Avery is one. She’d be happy with a box. But I’ve somehow made this about me, about us. About how much we can afford to give her. Christmas sometimes feels like the ultimate parental test. Just how well are you really doing financially? Pretty good? Well, prove it.
There are so many choices. All we can do is try to keep the spending under control, try to instill a sense of gratitude and giving in our kiddos, and remember what the holidays are truly all about. Making memories. Because years from now, when Avery’s telling stories of her childhood, she won’t remember that year we got her a slide. She’ll remember the laughter and hugs and warmth of the family being together.