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Past mistakes

Christmas gifts for children

I've been seeing this all over the web, as the ultimate "responsible parent" gift giving for children:

1 thing they want
1 thing they need
1 thing they wear
1 thing they read

I'm not sure I agree with this crap.  First of all, I don't shower my son with stuff the rest of the year (his grandparents do, but that's not my problem!), so leading up to his birthday when he asks for things he is told, "Put it on your Birthday list."  After his birthday, it is a long time until Christmas, so we will often come up with ways he can "earn" things he wants.  Doing chores to earn the actual money, getting good reports from school, (he wants a pet right now, so taking care of the dogs is a biggie, so far he's wanted a pet for four months, and hasn't managed to keep up the dog care long enough for me to even consider it!), etc.

Once about mid-summer passes, it changes to "Put it on your Christmas list."  And he does, we've shown him how to add things to his Amazon wish list, and he adds stuff.  That gives him the "immediate" gratification of thinking that at some point, he'll get that gift.  Then Christmas actually comes and I remind him to clear off stuff that he no longer wants, (I also do some "purging" myself, of things I don't think really engage him anymore).

For Christmas he is told to think of the one thing he REALLY wants, and he asks Santa for that--it's the one item he's guaranteed to get (within reason, we did nix the idea of an iPad!).  Since we don't have cable, we are extra lucky that he isn't bombarded with commercials to make him think he wants the thing that every other kid wants--so other than last year when I thought I wouldn't be able to find the Lego set he wanted, we've never had a problem.  And the gifts aren't always expensive, they are just the item he most wants.  And the lights that go off in his eyes when he gets it are amazing.

But we let him make a HUGE list, we let him put anything he wants to on it, we remind him that he won't everything, so he probably wants to prioritize.  Santa only fills stockings and brings each child one gift to our house (sometimes a couple more, but that's it).  His parents, aunts and uncles & grandparents cover the rest!

I set a budget, and try to stick to it, but he does still end up with a lot of gifts.  I'd say, probably more than he needs.  But, since we don't spoil him the rest of the year (okay, he knows I'm a sucker for buying him books...at least at 2nd hand stores...he'll come out with a PILE of those, but seriously, can that be bad?), I don't think this is a problem.

I remember opening underwear (in front of my *boy* cousin, *blush*), and towels, and other stuff that my mom found on sale and decided would be good gifts (if she hadn't picked them up close to the holidays, they probably would just have been given to us).  Up to a point, my son still gets excited over clothes (with his favorite characters on them), and I can wrap up "dress up" PJs in good conscience, but otherwise, I buy him what he needs, when he needs it.  That is why you are a parent.  If you didn't buy them stuff they needed, they'd feel insecure.  He gets books all the time, so that goes without saying, he's a serious reader--of just about ANYTHING.  But otherwise, I've set a budget, and I'll spend it on whatever he's put on his list...no rules!!

***He does have new Batman PJs (and so does his dad) for Christmas eve!!***