Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Beginning of the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I started Christmas shopping today.


I tried  to find a cute sweater for John for picture day, since the boy has grown out of everything he owns. But I ended up in Aeropostale. John pulled tags off of shirts, harrassed customers, dumped a dozen pairs of sweatpants on the floor, and misplaced all the sale signs. I went hog wild bought Christmas gifts for Emma. Can you beat $5.99 t-shirts?

When Emma was a toddler, and Clara just a baby, I felt like all the Christmas gits were getting out of control. So for many years, (until last year, actually) we had a three gift limit. Santa Claus would leave one big gift, and Mommy and Daddy would give each child three gifts - one for each of the three gifts that the wise men brought to baby Jesus.

In the beginning, it was tough. I had to get over the nagging feeling that giving my kids only three gifts (technically 4, since Saint Nick has yet to actually pay for something out of his own pocket) was mean. I was almost embarassed to tell anyone what we did. But you know what? It made things so much easier! They still got little prizes in their stockings from Santa. But it forced me to really think things through before making a purchase. The kids had happier Christmas mornings. They loved what they were given, and they weren't crabby or exhausted from opening too many gifts. Ryan and I felt content too, knowing we hadn't gone overboard.

Since the girls have gotten older, I did away with the three gift tradition last year. Emma only wanted clothes and music, and I couldn't see giving her only 3 shirts. I still stuck to a budget, but the shopping was actually harder for me!

Now I'm sitting here, looking at the purchases I made today for Emma. So far, three t-shirts and a zip-up hoodie. I don't even know what else I'll be purchasing for her, but I DO know that I miss the three gift limit. I guess it makes me feel like I'm falling into the trap of excessiveness again.

The excessiveness at Christmas frustrates me. It seems almost everyone I know goes nuts with the amount of stuff they buy their kids. Electric scooters, game systems, cell phones - you name it. (Don't EVEN get me started on the "kids with cell phones" thing!)

So I wonder, when does it stop? What's next??

For the 11 year old with the iPhone - what's expected next? And what happens when these kids are in the "real world" one day. What exactly is it that they'll think they're intitled to? And what is it teaching them, to surround them with hundreds and hundreds of dollars of gifts, when there might be a child in their class that doesn't have a warm coat? Now I'm rambling....

SO. How about you? Do you find ourself going "overboard" with your kids at Christmas? If not, how do you keep yourself from buying too much "stuff"? I'd love to hear about it!


Tatum said...


I started Christmas shopping yesterday. Forgot I did, opened the trunk only for my youngest to find the bad, that of course held one of his presents.

I agree excess is hard thing to not get pulled into. I happily still live in the toy department but when I first hear about an electronic, or cell phone, you will have to pick this mama up off the floor.

My kids buy one small gift for one of their siblings. I love that shopping trip with each one individually. Its a fun time and interesting to see each think about the others"wants".

Stefani said...

Good for you for getting an early start Kristin! I won't be starting my Christmas shopping until at least the second week in November. (when Syd tracks back in)

Since you know my hubby you won't be surprised to hear that we have a strict (smallish) budget for Christmas gifts. The last two years we have made it a point not to go overboard because three years ago, Syd got to a point where she didn't even want to finish opening gifts because there were so many. That was our big wake up call.

I like Tatum's idea of taking each child separately to buy a gift for their sibling. We might do that this year. Thanks!

Emily said...

One biggie from Santa, one practical (clothes, grooming products, etc.), one toy, 3 books. Then the stocking, which we limit to $10 per person. It is fun trying to see how much fun stuff you can put in for $10!

Carpool Queen said...

I do three gifts, plus one from Santa. It keeps me from going overboard (but with a large family and doting grandparents, it goes overboard anyway).

I have a friend who buys according to this poem - Something you WANT, something you NEED, something to WEAR, and something to READ.

HeatherV said...

last year we each bought each person one thing (so everyone received 3 gifts). This year b/c our house is SO much smaller and we have 3 kids we are letting them each pick a name from the 3 kids and they get to get that person a gift (and we said maybe the other sibling a 5 dollar gift). No gifts for Mommy and Daddy. And our families go so overboard (and yes we have asked them to keep it small) that we are only doing stockings (from Santa which is all Santa brings to our house) . Our kids have so many toys and if I let Andrew a lot of them would be given away (but I always say he/she plays with that so we can't get rid of it). So instead of gifts we are going to take them to Sea World (which is not saving us money). Our kids love each trip we take and talk about them non-stop and we figure better memories are made this way. So I am going to make a puzzle and put pieces in boxes and they can unwrap them and then put the puzzle together to see they are going to sea world. We also had a Christmas where the gift unwrapping put people to sleep b/c it was so mcuh.