I've had several people ask me what my son is getting for Christmas, and they've all looked shocked and scandalized when I said, "Nothing from us!"
Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled about Garrett's first Halloween and Thanksgiving, and Christmas is no different. But practically, I have to say that it makes no sense to me to spend lots of money on presents for a child who 1. Doesn't yet understand what presents are, 2. Won't remember what he got for his first Christmas, and 3. Doesn't need anything because he is showered with gifts every single day. (I feel the same way about first birthdays, too.) I mean, come on. How many parents say that they spend hundreds of dollars on gifts for their child only to be crushed when the child prefers to play with the boxes the toys came in? Infants and toddlers are wonderfully unaffected by materialism, and I think we should celebrate that.
Plus, my husband and I are not doing so well this year financially, so money for Christmas presents just... isn't there. Probably the only person we'll buy shiny new things for is my stepson, because he is six years old and he knows the (American, consumerist) meaning of Christmas. Luckily, he's also young enough that he still prefers dollar-store gifts to expensive doo-dads. Everyone else, though, is getting holiday cards with pictures of the baby on them. Merry Christmas, folks. The money we'd normally spend on things you don't need or want is now going to formula, diapers, and childcare. So have a look at the cute baby and forgive us for being so tacky.
I hope that future holiday seasons will see a much cheerier balance in our bank account, but I also hope that we will still be somewhat reserved in our gift giving. I am often appalled when I hear how much parents spend on gifts for their children. Some of these same parents complain about how their children are selfish and demanding and don't appreciate all they have; I wonder if I'm the only one who sees the connection.
Surely it must be possible to raise a child who doesn't think that an Xbox is one of their inalienable rights. Surely it must be possible to raise a child who understands that there are many children, in our very own city, who will get NOTHING for Christmas, who wear the same T-shirt to school every other day, who got out to play in a winter coat that's too small because their mom couldn't afford a new one this year. Surely it is possible to raise a child who is grateful for his family, his home, his warm and comfy clothes and the yummy food on the table.
I have a sneaking suspicion that it may only be possible to raise that kind of child if I am the kind of parent who is grateful to have my needs met, who gives to others in need, who isn't a slave to accumulating gadgets and gizmos. In this way, I think that having a lean Christmas is good for me, too.This post was inspired by Yes We Need A Little Tension, Right This Very Minutes by Megan at SortaCrunchy.